Pennsylvania Labor Laws

Pennsylvania Labor Laws (2024 Guide For Employers)

It’s essential for employers and employees working in the state of Pennsylvania to have a solid understanding of Pennsylvania labor laws.

  • Are you uncertain about your rights under Pennsylvania labor laws?
  • Do you struggle to understand the complexities of workers’ compensation?
  • Are you confused about the classification of independent contractors?

Pennsylvania labor laws can be intricate, covering a range of aspects such as workers’ compensation, wage rates, and equal pay.

To help you make sense of state law, we’ll guide you through these complexities, pointing you toward useful resources along the way.

This article is for:

  • Employees seeking clarity on their rights regarding wage rates and working conditions.
  • Employers in need of guidance on complying with Pennsylvania labor laws, including proper classification of independent contractors and provision of equal pay.
  • Legal guardians overseeing the employment of minors, such as newspaper delivery workers.

Whether you’re an employee, employer, or legal guardian, our comprehensive coverage will provide the clarity you seek.

Pennsylvania is a large, economically diverse state, and its labor laws impact numerous businesses and workers across a wide range of industries.

If you’re an employer or employee in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the state’s specific employment law landscape.

Disclaimer: Despite our best efforts to provide you with accurate information on this topic at the time of writing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content at the time of reading. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific guidance on Pennsylvania labor laws.

Pennsylvania Wage Laws

Minimum Wage

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage aligns with the federal minimum wage, currently standing at $7.25 per hour.

However, employers must abide by the higher rate whenever there’s a discrepancy between state and federal law.

The City of Philadelphia has its own minimum wage ordinance which may be higher than the state or federal standard.

Tipped Employees

Employers in Pennsylvania can pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage of $2.83 per hour provided the employee receives at least $135 per month in tips.

If tips don’t reach this threshold to bring the employee up to the full minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference.

Pennsylvania Payment Laws

Pay Periods

Pennsylvania requires private employers to establish regular paydays, occurring at least twice per month.

Employers must inform workers of their designated paydays.

Final Payouts

Upon termination of employment, employees in Pennsylvania must receive all wages due within the regular pay period if they were fired. If the employee quits, final wages are due on the next regular payday.

Pennsylvania Overtime Laws

Overtime Rate

In Pennsylvania, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any work exceeding 40 hours within a workweek. Overtime must be paid at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay, aligning with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).


Several categories of employees may be exempt from overtime pay requirements, including salaried individuals within specific professional, executive, and administrative categories.

Pennsylvania Break Laws

Adult Employees

Pennsylvania doesn’t mandate meal periods or rest breaks for employees aged 18 and older. However, if an employer provides short breaks (usually less than 20 minutes), they must be paid. Longer breaks where the employee is free from duties are generally unpaid.


Employees under the age of 18 are entitled to a 30-minute rest break for every five consecutive hours of work.

Pennsylvania Leave Requirements

Sick Leave

While Pennsylvania has no statewide law mandating sick leave, some cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have their own local ordinances requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.

Family and Medical Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for covered Pennsylvania employers. Eligible employees can use this leave due to their own serious health conditions, to care for a family member, or to address needs arising from the birth or adoption of a child.

Other Leave Types

Pennsylvania offers some additional protections with types of leave like jury duty leave, military leave, and leave to attend children’s school conferences.

Child Labor Laws in Pennsylvania

Age Restrictions

In general, minors under the age of 14 cannot be employed in Pennsylvania.

Work Permits

Minors aged 14 and 15 generally require a work permit to be employed. These permits may have restrictions on hours of work and the types of jobs permitted.

Hours Restrictions

Pennsylvania has detailed laws regarding the maximum number of hours minors can work per day and per week. These restrictions vary based on age and whether the workday occurs on a school day or during a school vacation.

Pennsylvania Hiring Laws


Pennsylvania, along with federal law, prohibits discrimination in hiring based on protected characteristics.

These include race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, and other factors.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act offers broad protection against discriminatory employment practices.

Background Checks

Employers in Pennsylvania can generally conduct background checks, but there are restrictions on the types of information that can be considered.

Drug Testing

Pre-employment drug testing is allowed in Pennsylvania, but employers must follow specific rules.

Pennsylvania Termination Laws

At-Will Employment

Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. This means employers can terminate employees for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the termination doesn’t violate anti-discrimination laws or other legal protections. Similarly, employees can quit at any time without a reason.

Exceptions to At-Will Employment

Some exceptions to at-will employment may exist. These can include:

  • Employment Contracts: A written employment contract can modify the terms of the at-will relationship.
  • Implied Contracts: Statements or promises made by an employer might create an implied contract under some circumstances.
  • Public Policy Exceptions: In rare cases, courts may recognize an exception to at-will employment if the termination violates a clear public policy mandate.

Occupational Safety in Pennsylvania


The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets safety standards for most private workplaces across the United States, including in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania also has its own occupational safety program, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety.

This program is responsible for enforcing safety standards in both public and private sector workplaces.

Workplace Safety Requirements

Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. This includes identifying and mitigating hazards, providing safety training, and reporting accidents and injuries.

Important Notes on Pennsylvania Labor Laws

Federal Laws

Federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply in Pennsylvania. In cases of conflict, the law offering greater protection for the employee generally prevails.

Local Ordinances

Cities and municipalities in Pennsylvania, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, may have their own labor laws that offer additional rights to employees.


Employers in Pennsylvania are required to keep accurate and detailed records of employee wages, hours worked, and other employment-related information.

Where to Find More Information

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DLI)

The DLI’s website has detailed information and resources on Pennsylvania labor laws.

Bureau of Labor Law Compliance

The Bureau is responsible for enforcing many of Pennsylvania’s wage and hour, child labor, and other labor laws.

Legal Counsel

It’s always advisable to consult with an experienced employment lawyer for questions regarding specific legal situations.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Pennsylvania labor laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Pennsylvania, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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