PA Wage and Collection Law, Covid 19 and Nurses Working Excessive Hours

by | Jun 27, 2020 | Blog, Medical Nursing, Professional License Application, Professional License Issues |

A long-term client called me today, and related the following story: Before Covid, she worked an average of three, 8 hour shifts for 24 hours. After Covid, she worked five or six, 12 hour shifts, routinely working 55 or 60 hours a week. However, her nursing home employer was still only paying her 24 hours a week.

This is illegal. Pennsylvania’s Wage Payment and Collection Law gives powers and duties to every employee for the civil collection of wages. Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law provides for civil and criminal penalties including 10% and 25% escalating penalties for employers who fail to properly pay wages absent any good faith dispute.

The statute reads:

Pennsylvania’s Wage and Collection Law requires employers to pay wages and other fringe benefits within the next wage payment. All wages and wage supplement earned in any pay period shall be due and payable before the expiration of the next pay. Payment is due by every employer based upon the wage stated and the rate of pay offered at the time of hiring. And employer cannot waive or limit prohibit payment of wages or compensation buy an employment agreement.

(a) Wages other than fringe benefits and wage supplements. Every employer shall pay all wages, other than fringe benefits and wage supplements, due to his employees on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer. Overtime wages may be considered as wages earned and payable in the next succeeding pay period. All wages, other than fringe benefits and wage supplements, earned in any pay period shall be due and payable within the number of days after the expiration of said pay period as provided in a written contract of employment or, if not so specified, within the standard time lapse customary in the trade or within 15 days from the end of such pay period. The wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check, except that deductions provided by law, or as authorized by regulation of the Department of Labor and Industry for the convenience of the employee, may be made including deductions of contributions to employee benefit plans which are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Where wages remain unpaid for thirty days beyond the regularly scheduled payday, or, in the case where no regularly scheduled payday is applicable, for sixty days beyond the filing by the employee of a proper claim or for sixty days beyond the date of the agreement, award or other act making wages payable, or where shortages in the wage payments made exceed five percent (5%) of the gross wages payable on any two regularly scheduled paydays in the same calendar quarter, and no good faith contest or dispute of any wage claim including the good faith assertion of a right of set-off or counter-claim exists accounting for such non-payment, the employee shall be entitled to claim, in addition, as liquidated damages an amount equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount of wages due, or five hundred dollars ($500), whichever is greater

Actions by an employee, labor organization, or party to whom any type of wages is payable to recover unpaid wages and liquidated damages may be maintained in any court of competent jurisdiction, by such labor organization, party to whom any type of wages is payable or any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated, or such employee or employees may designate an agent or representative to maintain such action or on behalf of all employees similarly situated. Any such employee, labor organization, party, or his representative shall have the power to settle or adjust his claim for unpaid wages. (c) The employee or group of employees, labor organization or party to whom any type of wages is payable may, in the alternative, inform the secretary of the wage claim against an employer or former employer, and the secretary shall, unless the claim appears to be frivolous, immediately notify the employer or former employer of such claim by certified mail. If the employer or former employer fails to pay the claim or make satisfactory explanation to the secretary of his failure to do so within ten days after receipt of such certified notification, thereafter, the employer or former employer shall be liable for a penalty of ten percent (10%) of that portion of the claim found to be justly due.