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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 28, 2017 11:36 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Modernization of PA Minimum Wage Act
Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation to modernize and simplify the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (PMWA) by eliminating a long-standing problem for Pennsylvania employers – confusing and unnecessary differences between state and federal law regarding certain wage and hour requirements.

Last Session, SB 1360 was co-sponsored by Senators Browne, McGarrigle, Gordner, Scavello, Folmer, White, Mensch, and Rafferty.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the regulations promulgated under it have been revised numerous times over the years and, as a result, provide extensive guidance to employers regarding wage and hour issues. In Pennsylvania, however, the PMWA and its regulations have not kept pace with federal changes. Consequently, Pennsylvania employers who have followed the only guidance available to them (federal law and regulations), have all too frequently found themselves in inadvertent violation of Pennsylvania law.

For example, in 1968, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) published a comprehensive guide with respect to the application of certain overtime pay requirements under the FLSA. Among other provisions, the guide specifically approved a concept called the fluctuating work week. However, because Pennsylvania did not expressly adopt the regulations contained in that guide, a Pennsylvania court recently determined that a Pennsylvania employer was not permitted to use the fluctuating work week to determine the amount of overtime owed to an employee. This decision was reached despite the fact that even the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (PA L&I) offered guidance that the method was permissible.

My bill seeks to address this and other inconsistencies by aligning the provisions of the PMWA with the FLSA. More specifically, it proposes that state law related to overtime would be interpreted in accordance with federal law, and the regulations and interpretations contained in the DOL’s Field Operations Handbook, while continuing to allow the state legislature to determine when a different approach should apply.

Pennsylvania would be joining several other states making similar revisions including the surrounding states of Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio, as well as Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, this approach was advocated by numerous testifiers during a joint hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Labor and Industry Committee held on June 21, 2016.

The list of organizations continuing to support this legislation from last session (SB 1360) includes:
Associated Builders and Contractors
Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania
Insurance Agents & Brokers of Pennsylvania
National Association of Social Workers-PA
National Federation of Independent Business-PA
Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability
Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
Pennsylvania Bankers Association
Pennsylvania Builders Association
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
Pennsylvania Council of General Contractors
Pennsylvania Credit Union Association
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pennsylvania Health Care Association
Pennsylvania Homecare Association
Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association
Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association
Pennsylvania Retailers Association
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors
Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association

Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB587