Last year, the Oregon legislature temporarily amended Oregon’s Equal Pay Act to exempt vaccine incentives and hiring and retention bonuses from pay equity considerations, as reported here. The temporary amendments were scheduled to expire March 1, 2022. More recently, the legislature extended the expiration date for the amendments. SB 1514 permits employers to continue offering vaccine incentives and hiring and retention bonuses through the end of Oregon’s COVID-19 state of emergency, plus 180 days, without running afoul of the Act. On March 7, 2022, Governor Brown signed the bill. At present, Oregon’s COVID-19 state of emergency is scheduled to expire on April 1, 2022. In the event Oregon’s Governor does not extend the state of emergency, employers may continue through September 28, 2022, using incentives to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations among employees, as well as hiring and retention bonuses to attract and retain employees. When the temporary amendments expire, the Act will revert to prohibiting employers from compensating employees at higher rates (including incentives and bonuses) than the employer pays employees in a protected class for work of comparable character, unless the differential is fully explained by certain nondiscriminatory factors.
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