If you are working in the state of Pennsylvania or you plan to work in Pennsylvania in the future, you should familiarize yourself with the minimum wage laws. Knowing how much compensation you are entitled to as an employee or how much you are required to pay as an employer can help you stay on the right side of the law.
Pennsylvania minimum wage laws
All states are subject to certain federal laws as well as state legislation dictating how employers must treat and compensate their employees. Federal law has established a minimum living wage for employees across the United States. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Regardless of the type of job, an employer must pay workers this minimum amount.
Minimum wage law in Pennsylvania
Each state is also given the freedom to create its own minimum wage based on the average cost of living in that state. The purpose of minimum wage laws is to ensure that all individuals make enough money to cover basic living expenses, such as food, water, and rent or other housing.
The minimum wage for every state has to be at least equal to the Federal minimum wage. However, all states can choose to make it higher at a state level. The state’s minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour. This applies to up to 40 hours of work in a given workweek.
Minimum wage in PA and overtime
If you work beyond 40 hours in one week, you are legally entitled to overtime pay, which is 1.5 times the minimum wage or 1.5 times your standard hourly rate. By way of the recently passed federal legislation, Federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires the state government to offer qualified overtime that matches the Federal requirement.
Your employer in the state of Pennsylvania is in complete control over when you work and how many hours you work each week. You can be forced by your employer to work overtime. In the state of Pennsylvania, if you do not comply with this overtime requirement, your employer is permitted to discipline or fire you. However, any forced overtime is subject to an increased rate of 1.5 times your standard hourly rate. Your employer cannot ask you to work overtime in exchange for extra days off later in the year. Additionally, they cannot require you to work overtime and compensate you with other benefits besides the overtime pay that you are legally entitled to.
Minimum wage in PA for seasonal versus part time versus full time
This state minimum wage requirement applies to any and all individuals working in Pennsylvania. Temporary workers, seasonal workers, part-time workers, and full-time workers are entitled to the same minimum wage and overtime compensation.
Changes to Income
Your employer can decide to change your hourly rate at any time. Your regular income is referred to as a regular rate of pay. This is how much you are regularly paid for every hour you work. If you get paid for temporary or seasonal work based on projects or you are a salaried employee, your regular rate gets determined by the total number of hours you worked in one week divided by how much you made.
For some individuals, this amount will likely equate to significantly more than Pennsylvania’s minimum wage rate.
Example: A temporary worker provides consulting services for a single project and receives payment of $600 for their 14 hours of services. This equates to $42.85 per hour.
Your employer is allowed to change your standard rate of pay at any time so long as they give you notice beforehand that your income will change and it does not fall below the minimum wage in PA.
- If your regular payday is the 15th of every month, your employer can change your rate of pay to $10 per hour so long as they provide you with written notice by the 13th of the month.
- The following month they can send you notice that moving forward, you will only be paid $8 per hour.
- The month after, they might send notice before the 15th that you will be paid $7.50 per hour.
In any of these cases, the rate of pay does not fall below the basic minimum wage in Pennsylvania or the federal minimum wage, so the changes are permissible.
Problems with Pennsylvania’s minimum wage rate
If you are not being compensated for your work in accordance with the minimum wage laws in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. You can also contact an attorney and take your employer to court. You have 2 years to file a claim with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and present your best evidence for situations where you were not paid the legally required minimum wage.
Overall, the Pennsylvania minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage, and it applies to all employees no matter how often or how little they work in the state. If your employer has not properly compensated you in accordance with Pennsylvania’s minimum wage rate, you can seek legal action.