Labor Laws in PA

Knowing about labor laws in Pennsylvania ensures employees are aware of what rights they have in the workplace and what federal and state laws provide protection for them on the job.

Pennsylvania Employment Law Basics

The federal and state employment laws forbid discrimination, make sure employers pay the minimum wage and compensate for overtime, and ensure employees are given the right to time off work for specific reasons, among other protections.

The federal government provides a standard level of employee defense, but states have specific individual laws that either reinforce these protective statutes or deal with other needs of individual states. State labor and employment laws in Pennsylvania are in place to protect workers from unjust treatment or hazardous working conditions as well as oversee guidelines for meal breaks, minimum wage enforcement, workers' compensation, and overtime pay.

Federal and Pennsylvania Laws That Prohibit Discrimination and Harassment

Federal laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in workplaces with a minimum of 15 employees include:

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employers from making employment choices based on race, color, creed, gender, or nation of origin.

  • Forbids discrimination based on age (if the employee is a minimum of 40 years old and the employer has at least 20 employees), pregnancy, disability, or genetic data.
  • Prevents employers from discriminating during any part of the employment relationship, ranging from job posts and application forms all the way to hiring practices, promotions, pay and benefits, discipline, leaves of absence, layoffs, and firings.

Pennsylvania Laws

Pennsylvania employees are sheltered from discrimination whether they use a service animal or they earned a GED and not a conventional high school diploma.

  • If a company employs at least four people, they are bound by Pennsylvania's state discrimination laws.
  • Harassment grounded in the protected statutes of Pennsylvania's labor laws is also prohibited. The law classifies harassment as unwanted comments or deeds that generate an antagonistic or distasteful working atmosphere or that the victim must tolerate as a circumstance of continued employment. Sexual harassment is the most common type, but it may also be directed at people based on disability status, race, or other protected distinctions.
  • A Pennsylvania employer is prohibited from disciplining, firing, or taking other harmful action against any employee because they complain inside the company, to a government entity (like the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), or file a lawsuit against the employer.

Rights to Time Off of Work in Pennsylvania

Several states require that employers provide employees with paid sick days; however, neither Pennsylvania nor federal law requires laid leave to be offered. Many Pennsylvania employers willingly offer their employees paid leave including vacation time, sick days, holidays, or paid time off (PTO) options.

Military Leave

Pennsylvania state law and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) both mandate that employers permit employees to take leave for federal or state military duty, either paid or unpaid.

Employers must reinstate such employees after their service or duty ends, and they cannot be discriminated against by employers due to their absence. Health insurance benefits are guaranteed for 30 days at no cost while Pennsylvania employees are on military-related leave.

Family and Medical Leave

The national Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) necessitates employers with a minimum of 50 employees must provide qualified employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for illness and caregiving, and occasionally longer. Pennsylvania has no state family and medical leave laws.

While an employee is on FMLA-related leave, the employer is required to continue employee group health benefits. Employees have a right to return to their jobs when the FMLA leave ends.

Wage and Hour Laws in Pennsylvania

Employers must adhere to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as Pennsylvania laws that set the standards for wages and hours, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, and other wage safeguards. Employers are required to pay the highest possible minimum wage that's applicable, whether set by federal, state, or local laws. The current Pennsylvania state minimum wage is identical to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Employees can file a complaint regarding salary and overtime issues under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968.

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