Pennsylvania’s wage laws have not been updated in decades. Meanwhile workplace practices have changed, with more subcontracting of work and more misclassification of workers as “independent contractors.” And the wage theft epidemic rages on. The PA Department of Labor and Industry (PALI) can and must issue regulations interpreting our existing laws to address the realities of the changing workplace, and thereby give clear, accessible guidance to employers and to workers.
Earlier this year, CLS joined forces with advocates from local and national workers’ rights organizations, partners in organized labor, and with wage and hour litigators to submit detailed policy recommendations to PALI. Our recommendations provide concrete, actionable changes that expand protections for workers and improve enforcement of our wage and hour laws, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”) and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (“PWPCL”).
Many of these proposed changes are long overdue given the daily economic realities faced by low wage workers. Among these realities is the rampant misclassification of workers as non-employee “independent contractors,” which allows employers to circumvent their workplace obligations and strips workers of their basic wage and hour protections. Pennsylvania should adopt the ABC test, which shifts the burden to the employer to prove the worker qualifies as an independent contractor. Similarly, PALI should clarify the standard under which joint employers are liable for workplace violations so that workers hired under subcontractor, franchise, and temp agencies are protected when rights are violated.
Low wage workers, many of whom are in frontline work, deserve full and fair treatment under the law.