General Wage and Hour Questions

What is the Minimum Wage in Pennsylvania?

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour.

What is the Law Regarding Overtime?

Most employees in Pennsylvania must be paid overtime compensation for any hours they work over 40 straight time hours per week. Overtime compensation is 1-1/2 times the employee's straight time rate of pay. Other employees may be overtime exempt because they may fall into one or more other exemptions.

Is Compensatory ("Comp Time") Legal?

Compensatory time off in place of payment for overtime is not legal.

How Many Employees Must My Employer Have Before It Has to Pay Overtime?

The number of employees has no bearing on the payment of overtime. However, it may impact the minimum wage rate. Click here for complete details on Pennsylvania's new minimum wage requirements.

Do I Have to Work Overtime if I Don't Want To?

Your employer may order you to work overtime. Your employer may discipline or terminate you if you refuse to work overtime. If you are not an exempt employee, your employer must pay you 1-1/2 times your regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. However, collective bargaining agreements may specifically govern this issue.

Are Salaried Employees Entitled to Overtime?

Just because you are paid a salary does not mean that you are not entitled to receive overtime. Some employees are exempt from overtime, such as executive, administrative, and professional employees, as well as supervisors who are employed solely to supervise. Your actual daily job duties and what your employment contract states determine if you are eligible for overtime.

Am I entitled to Holiday Pay?

Not by law. It depends on your employer's policy regarding the payment of holiday pay. Example: If your employer has a policy to pay holidays and you are required to work on a holiday, you would receive straight time for the hours you worked and then payment according to the employer's policy for the holiday. You could receive straight time for eight hours of work and straight time for eight hours of holiday pay. You are not entitled to overtime pay just because you work a holiday.

Am I entitled to Sick Leave? Vacation Pay? Severance Pay?

There is no Pennsylvania labor law which requires an employer to pay an employee not to work. Benefits like sick leave, vacation pay and severance pay are payments to an employee not to be at work. Therefore, an employer only has to pay these benefits if the employer has a policy to pay such benefits or a contract with you to pay these benefits. An employer must follow its own rules for these kinds of payments. There may also be federal requirements governing leave that has to be provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act. There may be additional requirements for certain persons within the City of Philadelphia. You can find information on the City of Philadelphia city government website. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry does not enforce city ordinances. You must contact the City of Philadelphia.

Don't I Have to Be Paid for "On-Call" Time?

This depends on the particular situation. Some on-call time is required to be paid and some is not. When trying to determine if you need to be paid while on call, you need to look at your freedom to pursue your own interests while "on call." If you are required to carry a beeper but are free to pursue your own interests, you would not be required to be paid until you had to respond to a call. If you are required to remain at your employer's place of business and are not allowed to pursue your own interests such as reading, visiting with others, listening to the radio, etc., your employer would be required to pay for this on-call time.

What is the Law Regarding Breaks and Meal Periods?

Pennsylvania employers are required to provide break periods of at least 30 minutes for minors ages 14 through 17 who work five or more consecutive hours. Employers are not required to give breaks for employees 18 and over. If your employer allows breaks, and they last less than 20 minutes, you must be paid for the break. If your employer allows meal periods, the employer is not required to pay you for your meal period if you do not work during your meal period and it lasts more than 20 minutes. A collective bargaining agreement may also govern this issue.

Can My Employer Change My Rate of Pay?

Yes, as long as you are given prior notice of the change the payday before the time the change takes effect and the rate of pay does not fall below the minimum wage. For example, if your normal payday (the day you are paid your wages) is on the 15th of the month, your employer could give you written notice of a change in your rate of pay any day before the 15 th . All work done by you for this employer after the 15 th would then be at the new rate.

What Can Be Deducted From My Paycheck?

If you have borrowed money from a third party, you can give the employer written permission to deduct payments from your earnings. If your employer has loaned you funds, it can deduct the amount from your earnings as long as you have given written authorization. Of course, normal tax deductions must be made. You must give written authorization to your employer to make such non-tax related deductions. It is not valid to sign a "blanket" authorization at the time of hire to cover any future deductions. Further, as a rule, deductions cannot reduce your gross pay below minimum wage, and the deductions must be for the employee's benefit.

What Kind of Information is My Employer Supposed to Put on My Pay Stub?

Your employer must give you a pay-stub each pay period which explains how long you worked, how much money you earned and how much money you were paid. The stub must include the number of hours you actually worked; your rate of pay; your gross wages; your deductions for taxes; and other deductions you have authorized your employer to make. The pay-stub also has to state the beginning and ending dates of the pay period.

I Just Gave My Employer Two Weeks' Notice and the Employer Fired Me. What Can I Do?

Pennsylvania is an 'AT WILL ' state. An employer does not need to give a reason to fire an employee under Pennsylvania wage and hour laws. However, you may wish to check with an attorney to see whether or not you can file a civil lawsuit against your employer for wrongful discharge. Also, if you feel you were discriminated against because of race, creed, color, age, religion, sex, or similar reason, you may wish to contact the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission at 1-717-787-4410.

How Soon after I Quit Do I Have to Be Paid?

If you quit your job, are laid off, or are fired, your employer must pay you all monies you earned by the next scheduled pay day.

How much Time Do I Have to File A Claim after Termination?

If you were not paid at least the minimum wage or you were not paid correctly for your overtime hours, you should try to file a wage claim within two years from the date the work was actually performed. However, you should file a claim as soon as you can. Since your employer is only required to keep its records for three years, it is more difficult for the Department of Labor & Industry to collect your wages as time passes.

Does the Department of Labor & Industry Have to Take My Wage Claim?

The Department can refuse to accept your claim for a variety of reasons including lack of evidence to support a claim or the claim is not valid under law.

How Long Does It Take to Get My Money?

If the Department determines that you have a valid wage claim, the time it takes to collect the money from your employer can range from several days to several months. Many things can speed up or slow down the payment of a wage claim.

What is the Difference between Full-Time, Part-time and Temporary Employees?

Except for delayed implementation of new minimum wage rates, the Minimum Wage Act makes no distinction between full-time, part-time and temporary employees. Some employers who provide benefits to full time workers may not provide the same benefits to their part-time or temporary employees. If you are not a full-time employee and you want to know if you are entitled to benefits, you will need to discuss this with your employer. An employer should have set guidelines to establish who qualifies for benefits and who does not. For information on delayed implementation of the new minimum wage rates for smaller employers, you should click here for complete details on Pennsylvania's new minimum wage requirements.

What Are the Requirements for Travel Time Pay?

Under Pennsylvania law, an employer must pay for travel time if an employee is required to report to the employer's establishment to clock in, load up, etc. If an employee leaves directly from home to the job site or vice versa it is not paid time.
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