Pennsylvania Working Time and 4-day Workweek

January 8th 2024

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.

Pennsylvania has established a comprehensive set of laws and regulations to govern employee working time within the state which we will discuss in this article.

This article covers:


Laws and Regulations that Govern Employee Working Time in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, employee working time is governed by various laws and regulations.

The minimum wage in the state is $7.25 per hour, with some cities implementing higher rates.

Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a week.

Although Pennsylvania does not have specific laws mandating meal and rest breaks, if provided, breaks of less than 20 minutes must be paid.

Employers have the discretion to provide longer breaks, which do not require payment if the employee is relieved of all duties.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has specific child labor laws that outline the permissible work hours, maximum daily and weekly hours, and restrictions for minors under 18.

Overtime in Pennsylvania

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 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.

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, including:

  • 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.

Pennsylvania 4-day Workweek

In May 2023, lawmakers in Pennsylvania proposed a new bill that aims to incentivize companies in the state to adopt a four-day, 32-hour workweek.

The legislation is sponsored by representatives from Dauphin, Chester, and Lehigh counties. In their letter advocating for the bill, the supporters highlight studies that suggest a four-day workweek can alleviate employee stress and provide greater flexibility for balancing work and family life.

This initiative reflects a growing trend in several states, with varying levels of consideration, to promote the adoption of shorter workweeks.

The standard five-day, 40-hour workweek has been in place for 85 years since the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, which mandated overtime pay for employees working over 40 hours.

Prior to the FLSA, most workers had a six-day workweek without receiving overtime compensation.

It’s also worth noting that, under the bill, eligible companies would receive a state income tax credit, which refers to a reduction in the amount of state income tax owed by an individual or business entity. It is a form of tax incentive provided by the state government to encourage certain behaviors or activities that are deemed beneficial to the state’s economy, environment, or society.

Employing Minors in Pennsylvania

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.

Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Pennsylvania

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

1. 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.

2. 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.

Learn more about Pennsylvania Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.