5 Things To Know About Labor Laws In Pennsylvania

Employment and labor laws in Pennsylvania are comprehensive in their representation and coverage of any and all issues workers may face at their jobs. These include discrimination laws, workplace safety laws, equal pay laws, fair employment practices, and more. 

In some instances, the Pennsylvania labor laws are more inclusive and wide-ranging, offering more protection to state employees, than federal laws. However, in cases where there is an overlap between federal and state employment laws, the laws that offer greater rights and benefits to the employee will take effect. 

Here are 5 impactful labor laws in Pennsylvania that you should know about. 

1. You are entitled to get paid for all your time spent on the premises


All the time that you spend at work premises under the direction of your employer, will be counted as your work day, whether you work during that time or not. 

This ruling came as the result of a case filed at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by employees of an Amazon warehouse in Lehigh County. 

The company was asking the employees to submit for a security screening at the end of their shift after they clock out. The time spent during the screening or waiting for it was not counted in their work day. Employees took it up to the court, which ruled in their favor, and asked the company to pay for the entire time workers were spending at the premises on company direction. 

2. If you complain about your employer, they cannot retaliate against you 

As an employee, you have the right to complain against your boss, or the company. 

If you believe you or a colleague is being treated unfairly, or you know your employer is indulging in unlawful employment practices, etc. you have the right to launch an official complaint against your employer, and they cannot retaliate against you. 

This protection is paramount in its effect to allowing employees to feel safe and empowered when they see a workplace breach taking place. You can, with this protection, can file a direct complaint against your employer, testify against them in court or PHRA proceedings, or assist in any investigation carried out to learn the truth. 

3. Your employer must provide you with a safe and hazard-free work environment

While the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not have its own occupational safety laws, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws govern the state’s workplace safety protocols. 

According to these protocols, employees are entitled to a safe and risk-free work environment. Employers are to make sure that the work environment they provide or the work itself must not cause any harm, illness, or injury to the worker. 

They are also required to carry workers’ insurance. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, any employee who gets injured or ill during the course of employment is entitled to wage benefits, medical benefits, and others. 

If your employer is involved in OSHA violations or refuses to give you fair workplace compensation, it is also your right to hire an expert Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer and file a case.  

4. You are entitled to equal pay

In Pennsylvania, gender does not determine your pay rate, at least by law. If the work you are doing is performed under similar working conditions and requires equal effort, skill, and responsibility, you are entitled to get equal wages, irrespective of your gender. 

The reality, however, may be different. According to the American Association of University Women, white women earn about 80% of what white men earn. Black women make up about 62.5 % and Hispanic women only 54.4% of their white male counterparts. 


If you are in Pennsylvania and you believe your employer has discriminated against you or a colleague on the basis of your gender when deciding your pay rate, hire an attorney and file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

5. You have the right to review your personnel files

The job industry usually remains uncertain and it’s always in the best interest of workers to make sure they don’t have any surprises lurking in their personnel files. 

With that in mind, the Pennsylvania Personnel File Act allows current employees access to review or request a copy of their personnel files. These include job applications, wage information, leave records, notices of commendations or warnings, and similar documents. 

Employees also have a right to reply to anything in the personnel files that they deem unfair. These written replies can then be viewed or their approval or rejection also becomes a part of the personnel record. 

It’s important to note, however, that this legal protection is only extended to the current employees of an organization or any authorized third party. If you are a member of the public, you do not have the right to review people’s personnel files. The same goes for ex-employees. When you leave a job or are let go, you lose the right to review your personnel records. 

You can still ask for those, however, your employer is not under any legal obligation to comply. 


Pennsylvania has a lot of room to cover if it wants to become one of the best states to work and live in. Right now, it’s somewhere in the middle of the list. Top 30. Not too bad but not ideal either. It can be perfected, however, and that starts with its employers and employees. 

While the state and federal laws keep a check on employers and encourage them to do the right thing, the real power lies with informed and empowered employees. Knowing what you are entitled to, and having platforms open where you can record your grievances without the fear of retaliation is a strong point to start from. 

We hope this brief guide encourages you to read more about this matter and become a part of the workforce that keeps things going ahead.

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