Pennsylvania Break Laws

April 15th 2024

Pennsylvania does not have any state laws regarding rest and meal breaks. As a result, the state adheres to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It is important for both employers and employees in Pennsylvania to understand their rights and responsibilities concerning breaks to ensure equitable treatment and compliance with the law.

This article presents a detailed guide to Pennsylvania break laws for both employers and employees.

This article covers:

Rest Breaks in Pennsylvania

Although Pennsylvania employers are not required by law to offer rest breaks to their employees, many may provide them through custom or company policy. Some employees may also have break entitlements arranged in a collective bargaining agreement. If an employer chooses to provide a rest break, federal law mandates that short breaks of up to 20 minutes must be paid.

Meal Breaks in Pennsylvania

There is no legal requirement to provide a workday meal break in Pennsylvania. However, if an employer offers meal breaks as part of its company policy, then it must adhere to federal FLSA requirements.

Under federal law, if an employer offers a meal break of at least 30 minutes (during which the employee is relieved of all job duties), then the employer does not have to compensate the employee during the meal break. However, if the employee is required to work through the designated meal break, then the employee must be paid.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Pennsylvania

Under federal law, employers covered by the FLSA must accommodate nursing mothers who want to pump breast milk in the workplace. Employers must provide the following:

  • Reasonable break time to allow employees to express breast milk.
  • A private place other than a bathroom stall that is shielded from the public’s view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. 

 Nursing mothers are entitled to breastfeeding breaks until one year after having given birth.

Mandatory Breaks in Pennsylvania

While there are not state laws in Pennsylvania, an exception exists in the case of following employees, where an employer is required by law to provide a rest and meal break:

  • Minor employees aged 14 to 17
  • Seasonal farmworkers

These employees are entitled to at least 30 minutes for a meal or rest period after working for 5 or more consecutive hours.

Rest Day Requirements in Pennsylvania

While there are no specific state regulations governing rest days, some collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, or company policies may provide for rest days or specify rest break provisions. Employees need to review their contracts and company policies to understand their rights regarding rest breaks and days off.

Under federal law, non-exempt employees who have to work for more than 40 hours in a workweek must be compensated at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay.

Penalties for Employers in Pennsylvania Denying Breaks

In Pennsylvania, employers who deny required breaks or meal periods to their employees (according to federal labor laws or contractual agreements) may face legal consequences.

Employees who are denied breaks or meal periods may choose to take legal action against their employer. Employees can file complaints with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry or pursue civil lawsuits for these violations.

It is therefore essential for employers to understand and comply with all applicable state and federal labor laws regarding breaks and meal periods to avoid potential penalties and legal liabilities. 

 Learn more about Pennsylvania Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

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.