What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?

Pennsylvania law generally parallels federal law relating to advertising open positions. It is illegal to print, publish, or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment indicating any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based upon characteristics protected by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, unless such preference is based upon a good-faith occupational qualification for employment.

Background checks

(a)Criminal records and arrests

Pennsylvania law prohibits an employer from considering an applicant's arrest records, juvenile adjudications, expungements and summary offense convictions. A Pennsylvania employer may consider conviction information regarding an applicant's criminal history record in making a hiring decision only to the extent that the applicant’s convictions relate to his or her suitability for employment in the applied-for position. Pennsylvania employers are prohibited from rejecting an applicant because of an arrest without a conviction. In addition, the City of Philadelphia has requirements that go beyond state law regarding criminal background checks, and should be referenced when applicable.

(b)Medical history

Pennsylvania employers may not use tests that tend to screen out individuals with a handicap or disability unless the tests can be shown as job-related. 

(c)Drug screening

Pennsylvania law does not regulate or prohibit private employer drug testing. However, an employer that chooses to implement such a testing program should be aware of any privacy issues involved. In addition, a recent state law bans employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees for being medical marijuana cardholders.

(d)Credit checks

Pennsylvania law provides that:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to require, as a condition of employment, an employee or prospective employee to consent to the creation of a credit report that contains information about the employee's or prospective employee's credit score, credit account balances, payment history, savings or checking account balances or savings or checking account numbers.

Unless such a report is directly related to the position applied for, or unless certain exceptions are met (e.g. managerial positions and fiduciary positions are excluded).

In addition, a recent City of Philadelphia ordinance makes it unlawful for employers to use the credit information of Philadelphia job applicants or employees—unless covered by one of a number of exceptions—for employment decisions such as hiring, firing, or promotion.

(e)Immigration status

Pennsylvania follows federal law on this issue, which means that Pennsylvania employers cannot discriminate against employees based on immigration status. Once an employee has proven to be eligible to work in the United States, the individual’s immigration status cannot be used in any other employment decisions.

(f)Social media

There is no specific Pennsylvania statute precluding the use of social media to gather information on applicants for employment positions.


Pennsylvania employers are prohibited from requiring an applicant or employee to take a polygraph/lie detector test as a condition for employment or for continuation of employment. This prohibition does not apply to applicants or employees in the field of public law enforcement, or who dispense or have access to narcotics or other dangerous drugs. 

Wage and hour


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

The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.

What is the minimum hourly wage?

Pennsylvania's minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour at the time of writing (February 2018). The Pennsylvania minimum wage increases automatically with increases to the federal minimum wage.

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

The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law requires all earned wages—defined broadly by the statute—of a terminated employee to be paid by the next regular payday, whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary. Deductions cannot be made unless by prior written agreement.

Hours and overtime

What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

Pennsylvania law includes no regulations regarding meal breaks except for minors, who must be provided an unpaid meal period of at least 30 consecutive minutes if they work more than five consecutive hours. 

What are the maximum hour rules?

The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act does not include a maximum hour rule, other than for minors, which sets out maximum hours by age.

How should overtime be calculated?

Pennsylvania generally requires an employer to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. Overtime must be compensated on a workweek basis, regardless of whether the employee is compensated on an hourly wage, monthly salary, piece rate, or other basis. Overtime cannot be calculated on the fluctuating workweek basis, as is allowed under federal law.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

Cab drivers, salesmen, and motor carriers are exempt from Pennsylvania's overtime provisions, but not its minimum wage provisions.

Record keeping

What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

All Pennsylvania employers must keep records of each employee's:

  • name;
  • address;
  • ZIP code;
  • hourly rate of pay;
  • occupation;
  • starting and ending work times;
  • daily and weekly hours worked;
  • daily straight-time and overtime wages;
  • total overtime compensation;
  • additions to or deductions from wages;
  • total wages paid; and
  • the dates of each pay period.

Employers must also keep special records for tipped employees, students, and learners. Records must be retained for a minimum of three years.