When does my employer have to pay me?
In Pennsylvania, the payment of wages is controlled by the Wage Payment and Collection Law. This, combined with the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, contain many protections for employees. These protections are incredibly important to preserve the rights of employees in Pennsylvania.
Your employer must designate regular pay days on which you will be paid. On these paydays, your employer must pay all wages, including overtime wages, that are owed to you. The time between paydays is called a “pay period.” Unless a different time period is specified in a contract, pay days must occur at least twice a month. Your employer must specify in written form how long after a pay period ends that they will pay you. If it is not specified in written form, then they must pay you within the time period standard for your industry or within 15 days.
Your employer must tell you when you are hired how long the pay periods are and how long after the pay period you can expect to be paid. If your employer does not inform you, they may not have violated the Wage Payment and Collection Law as long as this information is posted in a conspicuous place, or, if you are in a union, if the information is contained in a collective bargaining agreement. In addition, along with this information, your employer must inform you of any wage supplements or fringe benefits that they intend to pay you, such as contributions to a retirement plan.
If your employer does not pay you the wages due when they are required to, there are several things that you can recover. In addition to unpaid wages, you can ask the court to award you liquidated damages (a type of penalty against the employer, limited to 25% of the unpaid wages) and attorneys fees. If you do not bring a civil suit against your employer, you could inform the Secretary of Industry and Labor about your employer’s failure to pay your wages, and if the employer does not pay them promptly, the secretary could assess a 10% penalty against your employer. In addition, failure to pay your wages could result in a criminal penalty against your employer.
What if I quit or am fired in the middle of a pay period?
If your employment terminates in the middle of a pay period, then your employer must pay you the wages you earned during that period on the next regular pay day that your wages would have been due. If there is a dispute about how much you are owed in wages, your employer must notify you of the dispute and pay you the amount of wages that they concede that you have earned. They do not have to pay you the amount that is in dispute until a settlement is reached or if they are ordered to by the court.