The United States Department of Labor does not provide a legal definition of “part-time employment.” Each state can regulate part-time employment for its part-time employees. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry allows its employers to set their own part-time benefit policies with their employees.
As long as employers comply with the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and federal equal employment laws prohibiting discriminatory treatment of their employees based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin and genetic information, employers have the right to set their own benefit policies and work hours.
Minimum Wage Act
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act requires employers to pay their nonexempt employees at least the commonwealth’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, effective July 24, 2009. The Minimum Wage Act does not distinguish between part-time and full-time work, and employers must pay all of their employees at least the minimum hourly wage, regardless of the number of hours they work. Additionally, employers must pay their employees overtime compensation if they work over 40 hours in one workweek at time-and-a-half per hour. Employers can pay their tipped employees who regularly earn $30 or more in monthly tips, a minimum hourly wage of $2.83 per hour as long as their tips equal or exceed the commonwealth’s standard minimum hourly wage.
Minimum Wage Act Exclusions
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act allows some employers to pay their exempt employees less than the state’s minimum wage. Under Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act, farm laborers, students and training apprentices, domestic servants working in private homes, golf caddies, executive, professional or administrative employees, employees of charitable, some employees of educational or nonprofit organizations and some public amusement or recreational employees are exempt from the minimum wage laws. The commonwealth also provides an exemption from the minimum wage laws for employers who hire switchboard operators and civil employees appointed by the commonwealth.
On-Call Time and Break Laws
Employees who work “on-call” are generally required to remain available to work whenever necessary. The Pennsylvania on-call rules require employers to pay their employees for on-call time if they are required to stay on-site or are not allowed to pursue outside personal interests. Under Pennsylvania’s break laws, employers do not have to provide meal or rest breaks to their employees who are age 18 and older. However, employers who hire minors must provide them with at least 30 minutes to eat after five hours of work. Under federal law, employers do not have to pay their employees for their rest breaks if gratuitously provided or required by state law, unless they are less than 20 minutes in duration.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.