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What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?

Pennsylvania employers may not publish any notices or advertisements relating to employment which indicate any protected category-based preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination. 

Background checks
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?

(a) Criminal records and arrests

When hiring, Pennsylvania employers are permitted to consider only felony and misdemeanor convictions which relate to the applicant’s suitability to perform the duties of the position at issue. Employers must provide written notice to applicants who will not be hired if the decision is based in whole or in part on the applicant’s criminal history. Philadelphia makes it unlawful for employers to ask about criminal backgrounds during the job application process.

(b) Medical history

Pennsylvania employers may not elicit any information from job applicants about their medical history, or keep any records regarding an applicant’s medical history before employment begins.

(c) Drug screening

Pennsylvania employers are permitted to require drug screening.

(d) Credit checks

There is no Pennsylvania law governing what employers can do with regard to the use of credit checks in the context of background checks and inquiries. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the sole concern for employers in this regard. 

(e) Immigration status

All employers are required to verify that every new hire is either a U.S. citizen or is authorized to work in the United States. Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their immigration status, so once an employee shows that he or she is eligible to work in the United States, the employee’s immigration status should not be factored into any other employment decisions.

(f) Social media

There are no applicable laws governing what employers can do with regard to use of social media in the context of background checks and inquiries.

(g) Other

Pennsylvania employers may not elicit information regarding an applicant’s military status.

Wage and hour

What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?

The main sources of wage and hour laws in Pennsylvania are as follows:

  • Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 333.101 to 333.115);
  • Wage Payment and Collection Law (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 260.1 to 260.12);
  • Prevailing Wage Act (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 165-1 to 165-17);
  • Child Labor Act (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 40.1 to 40.14);
  • Seasonal Farm Labor Act (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 1301.101 to 1301.606); and 
  • Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 932.1 to 932.6). 

What is the minimum hourly wage?

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania in 2016 is $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania increases automatically to keep pace with increases in the minimum wage under federal law (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 333.104(a.1)).

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

When an employee’s employment terminates, regardless of the reason, all unpaid compensation that the employee has earned must be paid by the next regular payday (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 260.5(a)). Employers are permitted to make deductions from employees’ pay as follows:

  • deductions authorized in writing or under a collective bargaining agreement for payments into company-operated thrift plans, or stock option or stock purchase plans, to buy publicly traded securities of the employer or an affiliated corporation at market price or less;
  • deductions authorized in writing for payment into personal savings accounts, including: 
    • payments to a credit union, savings fund society, savings and loan society association, or building and loan association; 
    • payments to bank savings departments for Christmas, vacation or other savings funds; and
    • deductions for the purchase of US government bonds;
  • charitable contributions authorized in writing;
  • contributions authorized in writing for local area development activities;
  • deductions provided by law, including deductions for taxes and deductions based on court orders;
  • union dues, assessments and initiation fees, and other labor organization charges authorized by law;
  • deductions for repayment of bona fide loans authorized in writing either at the time the loan is given or after;
  • deductions for purchases or replacements by the employee from the employer if the deductions are authorized in writing or by a collective bargaining agreement;
  • deductions authorized in writing for purchases by the employee for his or her convenience of goods and other items from third parties; and
  • other deductions authorized in writing by the employee that are allowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and in line with the Wage Payment and Collection Law (34 Pa. Code § 9.1).

Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

Time allowed for meals is excluded from hours worked, and therefore is non-compensable, so long as the employee is neither required nor permitted to work during the meal period. Time spent on the employer’s premises for the convenience of the employee is excluded from hours worked (34 Pa. Code § 231.1(b)).

What are the maximum hour rules?

Pennsylvania law imposes maximum hour rules on minors. Minors aged 14 and 15 may not work more than three hours on school days, 8 hours on other days, or 18 hours per school week. During periods when school is not in session, minors aged 14 and 15 may not work more than 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week. Minors aged 16 and 17 may not work more than 8 hours in a single day when school is in session, or more than 28 hours per week during a regular school week. During a school vacation period, minors aged 16 and 17 may not work more than 10 hours per day or 48 hours per week (and any hours in excess of 44 hours must be voluntarily agreed to by the minor) (43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 40.3(d) and (f)).

How should overtime be calculated?

Overtime should be calculated for all hours in excess of 40 in a single week, at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay. Hospitals or establishments primarily engaged in the care of the sick, aged, or mentally ill, may utilize the “8 and 80” rule to calculate overtime on a 14-day, 80-hour work period rather than the traditional 40-hour working week. Courts have ruled that Pennsylvania law does not permit the use of the fluctuating working week method that is allowable under federal law.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act includes the executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales exemptions available under federal law. Additionally, Pennsylvania law provides for exemption from overtime for certain employees of: 

  • retail establishments;
  • motor carriers;
  • public amusement or recreational establishments;
  • organized camps;
  • religious and non-profit organizations;
  • newspaper publishers having local or limited circulation; and 
  • motion picture theaters.

Finally, Pennsylvania law exempts individuals employed as salesmen, partsmen, or mechanics who primarily sell and service automobiles, trailers, trucks, farm implements, or aircraft, and who are employed by a non-manufacturing establishment.

Record keeping
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act requires that employers keep accurate records of:

  • hours worked by each non-exempt employee; 
  • employees’ regular hourly rate of pay; 
  • work week by day and start and end times; 
  • the number of hours worked daily and weekly; 
  • total wages due for hours worked during the work week, including all straight-time wages due during any overtime worked; 
  • total premium compensation for overtime worked during the work week; 
  • total additions to and deductions from wages paid each pay period (and the date, amount, and category of the additions and deductions); 
  • allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage; 
  • total wages paid each pay period; and 
  • payment date and period covered by each payment.

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