It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Pennsylvania statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few Pennsylvania laws every small business owner should know.

Resources

First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:

Leave

  • Sick Days: Pennsylvania labor laws do not require an employer to provide paid or unpaid sick leave, but if an employer chooses to include a sick leave policy in the employee handbook, it must comply with the terms. 
  • Medical Leave: An employer may be required to provide unpaid leave in accordance with the federal laws in the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Vacation Days: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave, but if they choose to do so, they must comply with their established policy. 
  • Jury Duty: Employers are not required to provide paid leave for jury duty responsibilities, but employees may not be deprived of their seniority position or benefits, or otherwise penalized for responding to a jury summons. 
    • This does not apply to retail or service industry employers with fewer than 15 employees or to manufacturing employers with less than 40 employees.
      • Employees who work in these industries may request to be excused from jury service. 
  • Holiday Leave: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave, if an employer chooses to include a holiday leave policy in the employee handbook, it must comply with the terms. 
  • Voting Leave: There are no Pennsylvania laws regarding paid or unpaid leave for voting reasons. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Bereavement leave is not required by Pennsylvania law. 

Final Paycheck

  • State law requires employers to pay an employee who has separated from the business for any reason their final paycheck no later than the next payday. 
  • If an employee requests their final paycheck be mailed, the employer must comply. 

Minimum Wage

The Pennsylvania minimum wage is currently $7.25, but it is set to be the same as the federal minimum wage, so if the federal wage changes, Pennsylvania’s will too. 

Tipped Wages

  • The current minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.83. 
  • If an employer pays its tipped employees the lower minimum wage, it must also ensure that the tips received make up the difference between the lower minimum wage and the standard one. 
  • If an employee does not report their tips, they cannot claim that they were paid less than the standard minimum wage. 

Child Labor

  • No minor under the age of 14 may not work in any industry, except for children employed on farms or in domestic service in private homes. 
  • Minors under the age of 16 require a written statement by their legal guardian granting permission to work. 
  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age may work a maximum of 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on other days, with a maximum of 18 hours per school week (Monday-Friday) and 8 additional hours on the weekend. 
    • During vacation periods, they may work a maximum of 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. 
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work a maximum of 8 hours a day and 28 hours per school week when school is in session, plus an additional 8 hours on the weekend. 
    • During vacation, they may work a maximum of 48 hours per week and 10 hours a day, but a minor can refuse to work more than 44 hours in a workweek. 

Meal Breaks, Rest Periods, Overtime

  • Employers must give minors who work more than 5 consecutive hours a 30-minute break period, but aren’t required to provide breaks to adult employees. 
  • If an employer provides a break that is less than 20 minutes, it must be paid. 
  • Meal periods are not required to be paid if the employee doesn’t work during the break and if it’s longer than 20 minutes. 
  • Overtime pay must be paid to both full-time and part-time employees at a rate of 1 ½ times the normal rate, unless the employee is exempt, for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. 

Employment Discrimination

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, age (40 and above), sex, national origin, non-job related disability, known association with a disabled individual, possession of a diploma based on passing a general education development (GED) test, or willingness or refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization.

Click here to read our blog on what you can and cannot ask during a job interview

Termination

Pennsylvania is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws around shift scheduling in Pennsylvania.

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