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Employment relationship

State-specific laws

What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?

The Pennsylvania laws most applicable to employment relationships in the state are:

  • the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act;
  • the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act;
  • the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law; and
  • the Equal Pay Law.

Who do these cover, including categories of workers?

All employers with four or more employees are covered by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Employees are covered whether they are hourly, salaried, part-time or full-time, as long as the four-or-more employee threshold is met. The act also applies to applicants.

Misclassification

Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry signed a three-year memorandum of understanding intended to protect employees’ rights by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other non-employee statuses. Therefore, Pennsylvania employers should assume that employee misclassification issues will be governed under federal law.

Also, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry administers the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act that prohibits employers from misclassifying construction workers as independent contractors.

Contracts

Must an employment contract be in writing?

 No, but once both parties have understood and mutually agreed on employment terms, the subsequent words and actions of the parties must preserve the agreed-upon intentions.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

Over and above agreed-upon employment terms, and even in the absence of a written agreement, an employee is obliged to render loyal, diligent, and faithful service to the employer. This means that an employee must act with the utmost good faith in the advancement of the employer’s interests.

Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?

Generally, yes, so long as the language is a separate, clearly stated policy, expressly identifying various employment-related disputes to be covered, which is sent to each employee.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

  Written employment agreements can be modified according to their own terms.

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