Q: What is the minimum wage?
A: Currently, the minimum wage for most workers is $7.25 per hour for workers in Pennsylvania. People who receive tips as part of their job must be paid at least $2.83 per hour. However, if the employee’s wage combined with the tips does not equal $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference. Companies can pay people under age 20 $4.25 an hour during the first 90 calendar days of their employment (29 U.S.C. § 206(g)). Some apprentices, full time students, and workers with disabilities can be paid less than the minimum wage if their employer receives special certification from the federal government (29 U.S.C.§ 214). Other companies that do not have to pay minimum wage include: a few very small local companies, very small farms, seasonal recreational facilities (like swimming pools and amusement parks), small newspapers, and people receiving personal care in the home (for instance, from babysitters) (29 U.S.C. § 213).
Q: Do you have to get paid more for working overtime?
A: Yes. You probably must be paid at least 1½ times your regular pay rate ($10.88 per hour for minimum wage) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek (29 U.S.C. § 207). In industries with irregular hours, workers and companies may agree not to abide by the time-and-a-half requirement (29 U.S.C. § 207). Many white collar workers do not have to get paid extra for overtime. Companies that do not have to pay time-and-a-half for work over 40 hours in a week included: all companies that do not have to pay minimum wage (see previous question), as well as taxi companies, small police and fire departments, movie theaters, and some jobs in transportation, sales, live-in domestic service, and agriculture. (29 U.S.C. § 213).
Q: Can your company give you comp time instead of overtime pay?
A: No. Some employers give their employees compensatory time off work instead of overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, this is illegal. Only state employees may be given comp time instead of overtime pay, and then, only in certain situations. (29 U.S.C. § 207(o)).
Q: Your employer pays less than minimum wage or isn’t paying time-and-a-half for overtime. What should you do?
A: You may contact our office as we may be able to provide advice or representation on wage claim issues. You can also report your company to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. They will investigate your complaint, and if deserving, hold your employer accountable. All complaints to the Wage and Hour Division are confidential. If you are owed back wages, either the Wage and Hour Division will file suit against your employer, or you can do it directly.
The local Wage and Hour Division can be contacted at:
US Dept. of Labor, ESA Wage & Hour Division
1000 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 395-4996
Q: Can your boss deduct money from your pay without your permission?
A: Sometimes. Your employer may deduct local, state, and federal taxes, Social Security, or any court ordered garnishment (such as child support). Your employer may also deduct money from your wages to pay for other items, like tools, uniforms, meals, lodging, damage to the employer’s property, and financial loss due to theft. However, your boss may not deduct the cost of those items that are primarily for the company’s benefit (like tools, uniforms, and payment for theft and damage) from your pay, if it would cause you to be paid under the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (29 C.F.R. 531.3(d)).
Q: Does your boss have to pay you by a specific time?
A: Yes. Your employer must pay all of your wages on a regular, predetermined payday. All overtime accrued during a pay period must be paid by the following payday. Pay periods must not be too long (usually no more than 15 days). (43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 260.3).
Q: If you lose your job will you get paid for the hours that you already worked?
A: Yes. If you get fired or quit, you must be paid all wages earned by the next payday. (43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 260.5).
Q: Your boss didn’t pay you. What should you do?
A: You can either file suit on your own behalf, or contact the PA Dept. of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, which will conduct an investigation and, if necessary, bring suit on your behalf. If your wages are 30 days or more overdue, you can recover extra damages (on top of your wages) of 25% of your total unpaid wages or $500, whichever is greater. If you win a Wage Payment case, your company will also pay your attorney’s fees (Oberneder v. Link Computer Corp., 548 Pa. 201 (1997).
You can reach the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance at:
1201 State Office Building
300 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1210
Phone: (412) 565-5300 or 1-877-504-8354
Website: www.dli.state.pa.us (Department of Labor Home Page)