Ohio’s New Overtime Rules Sanction Wage Theft

Jun 14, 2024
By admin
Ohio’s New Overtime Rules Sanction Wage Theft

In March 2022, Governor Mike DeWine signed a new bill into law – Senate Bill 47 (SB47). This bill sought to amend particular sections of the Ohio Revised Code, specifically sections 4111.03 and 4111.10, to further clarify an employers’ overtime pay obligations under Ohio law. Once signed, the bill went into effect on July 6, 2022.

Senate Bill 47 enacted several reforms related to Ohio’s wage laws. The bill introduced new changes, such as adopting the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “Portal to Portal” Act, which further clarified when an employer is not required to pay overtime wages. However, Senate Bill 47 also incorporated certain carve-outs, or exceptions, that are not included in the FLSA’s “Portal to Portal” Act.

Below, we are going to break down what Senate Bill 47 means for employers and employees, including the potential ways that SB47 could expose employees to wage theft.

Disclaimer: The following is not intended as legal advice. If you believe you have been the victim of wage theft, please consult with an overtime lawyer in Columbus, Ohio.

What Changed with SB47?

As mentioned above, SB47 adjusted existing sections of the Ohio Revised Code while also creating a new code within Ohio Revised Code Section 4111.031. This newly created code limits an Ohio employer’s obligation to provide employees with overtime pay for several different employee-related activities that take place outside of a normal workday.

It also established new requirements for employees who are seeking to take part in class action claims related to an employer’s failure to pay overtime wages. Employees wishing to take part in class action claims must now opt in.

So, what do these changes mean?

Under Section 4111.031, Ohio employers are not required to pay overtime wages to employees for any time spent doing the following:

  • Any activities that occur before or after an employee’s “principal” work activities.
  • Any activities that require “insubstantial or insignificant periods of time” outside of an employee’s scheduled work activities, such as checking emails or phone calls at home.
  • Normal commuting to and from work, including walking, riding, or driving.

The exceptions to the above are if an employee is engaging in any of these activities:

  • At the specific direction of their employer – such as being told or if tasks are included in a contract.
  • During an employee’s regularly scheduled work hours.

These recent changes how overtime pay is determined have made things somewhat vague. In an April 2022 piece from The Columbus Dispatch on SB47’s recent changes, state representative Mike Skindell, D-Lakewood said, “Wage theft should not be tolerated in Ohio. And the General Assembly should not be making it easier for large companies to get away with it.” The vague language utilized in SB47 leaves employees open to potential wage theft. With the use of words like “insignificant” and “insubstantial”, SB47 and the newly created Ohio Revised Code section seemingly leaves the actual application of the law open to broad interpretation.

In certain circumstances, this can leave employees with less protections against wage theft, particularly when the definition of certain work related activities requires further clarity.

If you believe that you are dealing with overtime wage issues related to SB47 changes or other causes, connect with a Columbus wage theft lawyer immediately. They will be able to look at your situation and help determine the next best steps.

SB47’s Opt In Adjustment

SB47 also added in a new opt in requirement to Ohio law. Before SB47’s change, an overtime lawyer in Columbus, Ohio who was working with a group of employees to sue for overtime pay under state law was able to add other employees in similar circumstances to that lawsuit. Any employees added to a lawsuit would then have the option to opt out.

Now, employees must opt in to any kind of collective class action claim. This change under Ohio law mirrors a similar opt in system at the federal level.

Adopting this opt in requirement can increase the difficulty for employees in pursuit of unpaid overtime wages. Many employees may be scared to pursue unpaid wages on their own or they may not receive notice of a collective action in time.

SB47 has brought some major changes to how employees and employers must handle overtime pay, making an already complicated and area of the law more difficult to interpret.

If you have questions related to SB47, the new laws that went into effect in 2022, or if you believe you are dealing with unpaid overtime issues with your current or former employer, be sure to consult with an overtime lawyer in Columbus, Ohio.