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Wage and Hour Issues in Pennsylvania

Payment for Holidays, Sick Leave, Vacations and Severance in Pennsylvania

There is no law in Pennsylvania that requires an employer to pay overtime or holiday pay That is solely a decision for the employer to make.  Of course, if you are required to work on a holiday such that you work more than 40 hours in the workweek, you are entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Likewise, there is no law in Pennsylvania that requires an employer to pay an employee not to work.  An employer may voluntarily agree to pay for sick leave, vacations or to offer severance, but that is within the employer’s discretion.  If such a rule has been established, the employer may have bound itself to making the payments, but it is not the result of a statutory right.

Breaks and Meal Periods in Pennsylvania

Employers in Pennsylvania are not required to offer breaks to employees who are 18 years old or older.  Minors between the ages of 14 and 17 must be given 30 minute breaks when working five or more consecutive hours.

Employers are not required to pay for meal breaks greater than 20 minutes when no work is performed during the break.  Employers can insist that you do not remain in your work area – even it’s your own desk – during your meal period.


For private, non-union employers in Pennsylvania, overtime is governed by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  The overwhelming majority of employees are covered by this act and, as such, employees must be paid overtime compensation for any hours they work over 40 straight time hours per week.

In general, overtime compensation is paid at 1-1/2 times the employees regular rate.  There are many detailed exemptions to the requirement to pay overtime, but the largest three categories of exemptions is for professional, executive and administrative employees.  Employers must take extreme care, however, in classifying an employee as exempt from the requirement to pay overtime!  The exemptions are particular and certain specific tests must be satisfied before an employee can be properly classified.  Thus, it is not enough to simply claim that an employee does “administrative” work and is, therefore, not entitled to overtime.  Likewise, an employer may not relieve itself of paying overtime by paying employees a salary.  It is the employee’s actual job duties that determine whether you are entitled to overtime, not simply what your employer say about your job.

Unless there is another legal limitation, an employer can discipline or fire an employee for refusing to work overtime.  Such a limitation might be the necessity to provide a reasonable accommodation under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

In general, an employer in Pennsylvania cannot offer compensatory time off in place of paying overtime.  However, some public employers may offer “comp time” in lieu of overtime.

Pennsylvania Overtime Explained

Minimum Wage

The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, as amended in 2006, establishes a fixed Minimum Wage and Overtime Rate for employees in Pennsylvania. It also sets forth compliance-related duties for the Department of Labor & Industry and for employers. In addition, the Minimum Wage Act provides penalties for noncompliance.

Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Explained

Tipped Employees
In Pennsylvania, an employer may pay a minimum of $2.83 per hour to an employee who makes $30.00 per month in tips. The employer must make up the difference if the tips and $2.83 do not meet the regular Pennsylvania minimum wage.

Pennsylvania Tip Credit Explained


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