Pennsylvania Labor Laws

March 19th 2024

This article covers:

What are Pennsylvania Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Learn more about Pennsylvania Working Time and it’s newly suggested 4-day Workweek.

Law                                  Rate
Minimum Wage $7.25
Overtime Laws 1.5 times the regular pay rate after working 40 hours in a workweek ($10.88 per hour for minimum wage workers)
Break Laws Breaks not mandated by law

What are the Hiring, Working and Termination Laws in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act guarantees employees the right to a just hiring process. In accordance with this, employers in Pennsylvania cannot lawfully refuse to hire or differentiate in treatment towards any job applicants or employees on the basis of certain characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • Race or color
  • Religious creed
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Sex
  • Age (for individuals aged 40 and above)
  • Disability

When it comes to termination, like many other states in the US, Pennsylvania adheres to the Doctrine of “Employment At-will”. This means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason. These terms of employment also extend to private business employees, unless otherwise specified in their employment contract with the employer. In Pennsylvania, it is mandatory for employers to issue their employees’ final paychecks on or before the upcoming regularly scheduled payday, regardless of whether the employee resigned or was terminated.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Pennsylvania?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Pennsylvania that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • COBRA and Pennsylvania Mini-COBRA Laws – Employees in Pennsylvania who experience a job loss or other significant stressful life event may qualify for ongoing health insurance coverage under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This law applies to employers with 20 or more employees and may allow for the continuation of health insurance coverage for up to 36 months, with the cost usually being set at 102% of the original price. There are various events that may qualify an employee or their dependents for continued health insurance coverage, such as job termination, a substantial reduction in work hours, divorce, a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work, and having a family member with a serious health condition. Smaller businesses with 2 to 19 employees are subject to the Pennsylvania Mini-COBRA, which enables continued health insurance coverage for up to 9 months without extensions.
  • Workplace Safety in Pennsylvania – The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for regulating and enforcing workplace security standards and practices. OSHA conducts regular inspections of workplaces to ensure that all requirements are being met. In addition to OSHA, Pennsylvania also has its own Health and Safety Division, as well as the Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety, which are responsible for monitoring workplace safety and security for public employees.
  • The Whistleblower Law – In Pennsylvania, the Whistleblower Law offers protection to public workers who disclose suspected or observed breaches of state or federal regulations. Under this law, employers are prohibited from firing, intimidating, or taking any form of revenge against whistleblowers, as long as they are acting in good faith. This protection is enforced by the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG), which is responsible for investigating reports of violations.
  • Background Check Laws – Pennsylvania employers must comply with the regulations outlined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting background checks. Employers must provide written notice to employees before collecting their background data. Employers cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal history during the initial application, as specified in Pennsylvania’s “Ban-the-box” law. However, criminal background checks are required for certain occupations, including childcare staff, school employees, adult care services providers, home health agencies staff, police officers, private detective agency personnel, and patrol agency personnel.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Laws – Drug and alcohol testing in Pennsylvania is mandatory only for holders of a Commercial Driver’s License. Such workers can be required to undergo drug or alcohol testing in the following situations: prior to employment, random testing, testing under reasonable suspicion, post-accident testing, return-to-duty testing, and follow-up testing.
  • Record-keeping Laws – Employers in Pennsylvania are required to maintain accurate and permanent records of their employees. All employee records must be kept for at least 7 years and should be stored in an easily accessible location in case of an inspection. These records should include the following information:
    • Name and address
    • Social security number
    • Total amount of gross earnings for each pay period before deductions
    • Date and amount of wages paid for each pay period
    • Dates of recruitment, re-employment, layoff, or dismissal
    • Dates of all absences
    • Type of service rendered by the employee
    • Additional compensation or benefits, apart from regular salary

Pennsylvania Payment Laws

When it comes to labor laws in Pennsylvania, understanding wage regulations is critical. In this section, we’ll delve into the minimum wage policy in Pennsylvania, tipped minimum wage laws, exceptions to the minimum wage, the subminimum wage, and payment regulations.

What is the Minimum Payment in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is subject to the regulations outlined in the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA). Currently, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is the same as the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 per hour. But over the past few years, there have been ongoing efforts to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. In 2021, a plan was proposed to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by July 1, 2028. This move, if passed by the General Assembly, would make Pennsylvania one of the states with the highest minimum wage rates in the country, alongside California and New York.

The term “tipped employees” is used under US federal law to refer to workers who receive more than $30 per month in tips. However, in Pennsylvania, this threshold is higher, with a minimum of $135 in monthly tips required for an employer to pay a tipped minimum wage rate of $2.83 per hour. It’s important to note that when the direct wages of a tipped employee are combined with their tips, the resulting amount must be equal to or greater than the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If the total earnings fall short of the minimum wage requirement, the employer must make up the difference.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania labor laws require employers to pay a minimum wage to most employees. However, there are some occupations that are exempt from minimum wage provisions. Here are the main categories of exempted workers:

  • Administrative, Executive, and Professional Staff if they earn more than $875 per week.
  • Farm Laborers who work in crop production, animal husbandry, or related activities 
  • Domestic Services Providers who provide services in the employer’s home, such as cleaning, cooking, or childcare
  • Newspaper Delivery Persons who deliver newspapers or shopping news 
  • Outside Salespersons who are engaged in outside sales activities if they meet certain criteria

A subminimum wage refers to any wage that falls below the state or federal minimum wage, depending on which one applies. One type of subminimum wage is known as the training wage. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers can pay a training wage of $4.25 per hour to employees aged 16 to 19 for the first 90 calendar days of employment. However, it’s worth noting that Pennsylvania has prohibited the use of a training wage since July 24, 2009. The US Department of Labor or Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance decides how much these workers get paid. The employer must have a special license to use this type of subminimum wage.

On the other hand, there is another type of subminimum wage that still applies to certain employees in Pennsylvania – those with disabilities.   

What is the Payment Due Date in Pennsylvania?

Employers in Pennsylvania have a few options for how often they pay their workers. These options depend on the type of job and any contracts that are in place. All employers, however, are required to establish a regular payday. This payday should be set according to the length of the pay period, which can’t be more than one of the following: a time period specified in an agreement between the employer and employee, a customary time frame that is standard in the business sector in which the employer operates, or a maximum of 15 days if neither of the previous options applies.

What are Pennsylvania Overtime Laws?

Overtime is an important aspect of labor law in the United States, and it’s regulated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the FLSA, all work that exceeds 40 hours in a workweek is considered overtime and must be paid at the rate of 1.5 times the regular pay. It’s worth noting that the basis for overtime calculations is the workweek, which is a regularly recurring period of 168 hours split into 7 24-hour periods. This workweek doesn’t necessarily have to align with traditional time and weekdays, as long as it’s consistent and recurring. Pennsylvania doesn’t have a specific state law that regulates overtime, which means that employers in the state must comply with the federal regulations set forth by the FLSA. 

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s labor laws require employers to pay overtime to most employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. However, there are some occupations that are exempt from these regulations. Here are some examples:

  • Farm Workers who are involved in crop production, animal husbandry, or related activities
  • Sailors who are employed on a vessel or boat 
  • Salesmen, Partsmen, or Mechanics who primarily deal with vehicles, such as cars or trucks.
  • Taxi Drivers who drive taxis or other passenger vehicles 
  • Motion Picture Theater Workers 
  • Executive, Administrative, and Professional Employees who earn more than a certain amount per week
  • Workers who live and work in cities or towns with a population of 100,000 or less, provided that the city is not included in a larger metropolitan statistical area with a total population of over 100,000
  • Employees who reside in cities or towns with a population of 25,000 or less if they are located within a standard metropolitan statistical area, but at least 40 miles away by air from the main city in that area.

Learn more in detail about Pennsylvania Salaried Employees Laws and Pennsylvania Overtime Laws.

What are Pennsylvania Time Off/Break Laws?

In Pennsylvania, neither state nor federal law requires employers to give workers breaks to eat or rest. While Pennsylvania law doesn’t mandate meal and rest breaks, many employers do offer these benefits to their employees.

What are the Exceptions to Break Law in Pennsylvania?

An employer must follow certain requirements if he does decide to provide breaks to his employees. rest breaks of 20 minutes or less must be paid for and counted as part of the worker’s work hours. During these breaks, employees can rest, eat, or engage in other personal activities. On the other hand, meal periods must be longer than 20 minutes and can be unpaid, but during this time, the employee must be relieved of all duties.

There is an exception for minor employees aged 14 through 17. These employees are entitled to a minimum 30-minute break for a meal or rest period if they work for 5 or more consecutive hours.

What are Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Laws?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers in Pennsylvania must offer break time and proper facilities for nursing mothers to express breast milk. This entails providing a secluded, hygienic, and secure area that is not a bathroom for mothers to use for this purpose. Along with the designated space, employers must also offer a fair amount of time for the activity to be completed. The frequency and duration of these breaks will depend on the needs of the individual employee and the nature of their work. It’s important to note that these break requirements apply to nursing mothers up to one year after the birth of their child. 

Pennsylvania Leave Laws

The rules for determining whether a particular type of leave is mandatory vary between US states. In this guide section, we will be discussing the types of leave days that are required and non-required in Pennsylvania.

What is Pennsylvania Required Leave?

Let’s examine the types of leave mandated by Pennsylvania law:

  • Family and Medical Leave – Under the rules of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees in Pennsylvania can get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical emergencies. Among the events that may qualify an employee for this leave are giving birth and caring for a newborn child, adopting or fostering a child, experiencing a health condition that makes it impossible to work, and caring for a family member with a severe health condition. To be eligible for family and medical leave, federal law mandates that the employee must have been employed by the same employer for a minimum of 12 months and, additionally, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during that 12-month period.
  • Jury Service Leave – In Pennsylvania, all employees have the right to serve on a jury without any obstruction from their employer. In other words, employers are prohibited from threatening, disciplining, or firing an employee who decides to attend jury duty. Nonetheless, employers may ask their employees to utilize their available vacation time when attending jury duty, and the employee may not necessarily receive payment for the time off.
  • Military Service Leave – Under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), all members of the uniformed services are entitled to unpaid military leave. An employee may take time off for deployment and, upon their return, retain all of their benefits and their level of seniority from before the deployment and be reinstated to their previous position if the following conditions are met: the employee informs their employer of their military service, the total length of active military service is less than 5 years, the discharge from military service is not dishonorable or disqualifying and the employee returns to work in a timely manner.
  • Crime Victims Leave- In Pennsylvania, all employees have the right to take a witness duty/crime victim leave in order to participate, be present, and/or give testimony in the court preparation or proceedings for a criminal case they were involved in as a victim or witness. However, during this absence, the employer is not obligated to provide payment to the employee.
  • Emergency Response Leave (State Employees) – If an employee who works for the state of Pennsylvania, is also a volunteer member of a fire department or emergency medical service, they are permitted to be absent from work when responding to an emergency. The state is prohibited from imposing any negative consequences on an employee who is not present at work because they are responding to an emergency response callHowever, the employee must furnish a statement from the Chief Executive Officer of the volunteer services organization, confirming that the employee responded to the emergency and stating the time of the emergency call.
  • Sick Leave (State Employees) – Public employees in Pennsylvania who have worked for a minimum of 30 days are entitled to accumulate sick leave, which can be utilized for personal illness or the illness of a family member. The maximum amount of sick leave an employee can accrue per calendar year is 5 days.
  • Time Off for Bereavement (State Employees) – Employees who work for the state are granted a paid bereavement leave of 3 days in the event of a death of an immediate family member
  • Vacation and Holiday Leave (State Employees) – Pennsylvania state employees have the right to paid leave on all national holidays. Additionally, full-time state employees accumulate vacation leave at varying rates based on the number of years they have served:
    • For the first 3 years of service, vacation time is accrued at a rate of 4.24% of regular hours paid, up to 11 days per year.
    • Between 3 and 15 years of service, vacation time is accrued at a rate of 7.32% of regular hours paid, up to 19 days per year.
    • After 15 years of service, vacation time is accrued at a rate of 9.24% of regular hours paid, up to 24 days per year.

What is Pennsylvania Non-Required Leave?

Let’s discuss the types of leave that are not legally required in Pennsylvania unless outlined in the agreement between an employer and an employee. These types of leave include:

  • Sick Leave (Private Employees) – Private employers in Pennsylvania are not required by any regulations to offer sick leave to their employees.
  • Time Off for Bereavement (Private Employees) – In Pennsylvania, private employers are not mandated to offer bereavement leave to their employees.
  • Time Off for Vacation and Holiday Leave (Private Employees) – Unless it is specified in their contract, private sector employees in Pennsylvania are not eligible for vacation or holiday leave.
  • Time Off for Voting – Employers in Pennsylvania are not obligated to offer voting time off to their employees.

Here is a table of official state holidays observed in Pennsylvania:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about Pennsylvania Leave Laws.

What are Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws?

The Child Labor Act of Pennsylvania stipulates that minors are eligible for employment only when they reach the age of 14 or above. Furthermore, minors who are younger than 16 years old must give their employers a written statement, signed by their parent or legal guardian, that acknowledges their work responsibilities and grants permission for them to work. Minors under the age of 18 who desire to participate in live performances or broadcasts, such as on radio, TV, movies, the Internet, or other similar platforms that have audiences, must obtain approval from a state agency.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Pennsylvania?

Regarding the permissible working hours for minors, there are distinct requirements for two age groups:

  • Minors under 16 years old
  • Minors under 16 and 17 years old

What are the laws governing the employment of individuals under 16 years of age in Pennsylvania?

The legal working hours for children under 16 are as follows:

  • Anytime from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on days when school is in session.
  • Anytime from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on days when school is not in session.
  • No more than 3 hours on a school day.
  • No more than 8 hours on a non-school day.
  • No more than 18 hours per week when school is in session, with an additional 8 hours allowed on both Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 16 hours.
  • No more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.

What are the laws governing the employment of individuals aged 16 and 17 in Pennsylvania?

The legal working hours for children under 16 and 17 are as follows:

  • Anytime between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. while school is in session.
  • Anytime between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. while school is out of session.
  • No more than 10 hours per day when school is not in session.
  • No more than 48 hours per week when school is not in session.
  • No more than 8 hours on a school day.
  • No more than 28 hours per week when school is in session, with an additional 8 hours allowed on both Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 16 hours.

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Pennsylvania?

The Child Labor Act in Pennsylvania also governs occupations that are not permitted for minors due to being considered too hazardous. The following are among the prohibited occupations for minors in Pennsylvania:

  • Brickmaker
  • Crane operator
  • Electrical worker
  • Excavator
  • Forest firefighter
  • Mill worker
  • Meat processing operator
  • Motor vehicle operator/servicer
  • Roofer
  • Welder
  • Occupations in establishments that serve alcoholic beverages
  • Acrobatic acts that include high-wire, trapeze, unicycle, and bicycle acts
  • Activities that expose minors to dangerous weapons, including pyrotechnical devices
  • Activities at high speeds and altitudes
  • Sexually abusive acts
  • Acts involving animals that weigh more than half of the minor’s weight

Learn more in detail about Pennsylvania Child Labor Laws.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.