COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced Senate Bill 38, the “Workers’ Rights Act,” which will raise Ohio’s minimum wage, expand overtime protection, and prevent employee misclassification.

“Ohioans have suffered from idle wages while productivity and inflation have increased1,” said Senator Yuko. “This legislation is a common sense step toward fair wages and benefits for workers.” 

Provisions in Senate Bill 38 would do the following:

Raise the Minimum Wage—Helping the Working Poor

-Increase Ohio’s minimum wage from $8.15 to $10.15 an hour, adjusting to changes in the Consumer Price Index each year as required by the Constitution.

  • While productivity has increased, inflation-adjusted wages have actually fallen slightly in Ohio since the amended Fair Labor Standards Act. 2
  • Wages are behind in Ohio due partly to growth in low-wage jobs. “Of our thirteen most common occupations, only two pay more than 200 percent of the official poverty line for a family of three. Nine of these most common jobs pay less than $30,000 a year with full-time, year-round work.” 2
  • The prevalence of low-wage jobs means that an increase in the minimum wage would help a lot of people. If the federal minimum wage increased to $12 by 2020, roughly a third of the workforce would benefit.3 Under this bill, Ohio would take a modest, business-conscious step forward by splitting the difference with this goal.

-Eliminate the prohibition on local control of additional increases in minimum wage. This prohibition was added into SB 331 during lame duck at the end of last year.

Expand Overtime Compensation—Helping the Middle Class to Build Strong Families

-Increase the threshold for overtime compensation for salaried employees to $50,000 in the first year, then to $69,000 in following years.

  • In 2015, only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 – or around $455 a week – qualified for mandatory overtime. This is only $2 a week above the poverty level for a family of four.4
  • In 2016, the United States Department of Labor increased the mandatory overtime threshold to a more modern $47,476, although the rule is currently in limbo. 

Employment Reclassification—Create a Better Playing Field for Collaboration & Clarity

-Replace the definition of “employee” in the Minimum Fair Wage Standards Law and the Industrial Commission and Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Law. 

-Add the definition of “employee” created under the bill to the Bimonthly Pay Law, the Prevailing Wage Law, the Unemployment Compensation Law, and the Income Tax Law.

-Prohibit any person from requiring or requesting an individual to enter into an agreement or sign a document that does not accurately reflect the individual’s relationship with an employer. 

-Prohibit an employer from retaliating against an individual who seeks employment protection and creates criminal and civil penalties for individuals who violate proposed employment provisions.

“This mirrors my efforts in fighting for working families for over forty years, as a union organizer and state representative,” said Senator Yuko. “I hope we can work to make significant strides for Ohioans.”


  1. Figure C. “How to Raise Wages,” Economic Policy Institute.
  2. “Still Struggling: State of Working Ohio 2016,” Policy Matters Ohio.
  3. Labor standards, labor market institutions and business practices. “How to Raise Wages,” Economic Policy Institute.
  4. “Updating Overtime Rules is One Important Step in Giving Americans a Raise,” Economic Policy Institute.
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