Leigslative Update: Labor

As we have celebrated Labor Day this week, I never want us to forget how precious our workforce is. There are so many pieces of legislation that provide for employees and the self-employed. These include legislation on certifications, continued education, workforce development, military and veteran employees, public employees and their retirement system, and wages & benefits. Here is a highlight of workforce rights in accordance to the tenants of Labor Day. Under each category of rights, I have included the committee chair’s contact links. If you support a bill, please contact them to advise you want to see the bill move forward before it dies at the end of the term in December.

Employment Contracts and Classifications

Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB171 would deem non-compete language in employment agreements to be against public policy. This legislation provides Pennsylvania businesses with the ability to seek out and hire the best and brightest candidates. Many businesses find it difficult to attract highly qualified employees who are not restricted by a non-compete agreement.

HB173 would amend the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, which regulates businesses that intentionally misclassify workers to gain a financial advantage by shortchanging the worker’s or unemployment compensation systems. For example, a business classifies workers as common laborers for the purpose of securing a contract as the lowest bidder, only to find out such workers are skilled laborers if compensation is later sought. This would mean the business pays a lower amount into the compensation system. If these businesses are not paying their fair share the burden falls squarely on the backs of every hard-working taxpayer on the Commonwealth.

HB563 would prohibit employers from including non-compete clauses in the employment contracts of low-wage workers.

HB718 would require the Department of Labor and Industry to confirm the receipt of misclassification complaints within 15 days. Responsiveness and open communication are hallmarks of good government, and these changes will encourage people to come forward and ensure that the Department is properly enforcing the law. This practice hurts law-abiding businesses and workers that are simply trying to earn an honest day’s pay, support their families, and better their communities.

Finance: Representatives Mike Peifer and Jake Wheatley

HB597 would render non-compete clauses by institutions of purely public charity void. Employment contracts containing non-compete clauses are usually offered on a take it or leave it basis. This means health care practitioners, particularly those right out of school, have no option but to accept these contracts and their restrictive terms.


Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB491 would amend the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Law to allow for reasonable accommodations to be made for individuals with a disability who are required to take the reemployment class in order to succeed in the class.

HB1865 would allow a claimant, who files a UC claim and meets the existing eligibility provisions, to be eligible for UC benefits if the claimant is unemployed due to stoppage of work caused by a labor dispute.

Harassment, Discrimination and Abuse

Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB846 would amend the state Child Labor Act to require a background check prior to the commencement of employment or volunteer service on the set of a performance where a minor is employed.

HB1025 would fix the outdated provisions of the law by ensuring that all employees have the same workplace protections, regardless of the size of their employer or the type of work they perform. Domestic workers, independent contractors, or employees of small businesses are specifically excluded from receiving protection against discrimination and harassment.

HB1027 would require employers to adopt written policies and procedures for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Providing clarity on these issues will result in happier and more productive workplaces. For employers, having these policies and procedures in place can also prevent costly lawsuits.

HB1040 would amend the Human Relations Act to require employers to conduct annual interactive discrimination and harassment training for all employees, interns, and volunteers at little to no cost to employers. In addition, my bill would require additional interactive training for supervisors and managers in the prevention of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

HB898 would prohibit any employer from inquiring about a criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant. Everyone deserves a fair chance at a job, which could turn their life around.

HB1505 would make several changes to state law to better protect individuals currently employed as well as those applying for open positions who have criminal records. Specifically, this bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about or using information related to a job applicant’s or current employee’s juvenile or summary offenses, cases that did not result in convictions, and cases that were expunged or pardoned when determining an individual’s suitability for employment. The legislation would contain specific safeguards for employers to comply with when they determine that an individual’s past criminal record relates to their current position or a position they have applied for. For example, employers must consider the amount of time that has passed since the offense was committed or the completion of the sentence, whichever is later.

HB1546 would require a health facility to establish a workplace violence prevention committee that will create, review, administer, and provide guidance on programs relating to the prevention of workplace violence at Commonwealth healthcare facilities. The bill would outline specific duties of the committee. It is designed to also protect employees and other healthcare providers from retaliatory action for reporting instances of workplace violence.

HB1548 would have the Commonwealth adopt a streamlined hiring and promotion process for qualified individuals with significant disabilities whose physical or mental impairments impact their ability to participate in the competitive hiring and promotion process for public employment.

HB2228 would require employers to provide unpaid leave for employees who attend a PFA hearing if the employee is a victim or is providing testimony on behalf of a victim.

HB2097 would provide protections for employees failing a drug test due to their use of medical cannabis as a qualified patient. Employers would be forbidden from discharging, threatening, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against such employees.

State Government: Representatives Garth Everett and Kevin Boyle

HB1620 would extend the amount of time a person has to file discrimination complaints with the PA Human Relations Commission. In addition, complainants would have the right to a trial by jury and the ability to collect punitive damages and attorney’s fees from the defendant.

HB2725 would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hair style.

Other Protections and Rights

Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB1082  would extend OSHA protections to public sector workers in Pennsylvania.

HB1177 would fix two main loopholes in federal law that provides for workplace accommodations for nursing mothers. For one, it will apply to all employees, including those that are exempt from federal overtime provisions. Secondly, the bill will require employers to provide a private, sanitary space for mothers to express milk beyond one year after birth. This bill would mirror the federal provision that exempts small employers from these requirements if they would present an undue hardship to the employer.

HB1435 would provide up to six weeks protected, unpaid leave for employees to care for a grandparent, parent, sibling, or grandchild with a certified terminal illness having no other suitable care giver in their immediate family.

HB1436 would require employers to set clear workweek rules, so employees can know when and how much they will work. In addition, my bill will guarantee “predictability pay,” which pays workers when their shift is canceled or drastically changed.

HB2260 would amend the constitution to provide the rights of: A job that pays a living wage; Affordable and accessible health care; Safe, efficient, and reliable transportation infrastructure; and Safe and healthy working conditions.

HB2688 will require workplaces to provide workers with a 180-day notice prior to: (1) a plant closing with 50 or more employees; or (2) mass layoffs of 500 or more employees.

Insurance: Representatives Tina Pickett and Tony DeLuca

HB2813 would ensure a greater degree of access to contraceptives for women within the Commonwealth by expanding access to contraceptives.

Collective Bargaining Labor

Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB1866 would allow Pennsylvania’s hard-working agriculture workers to unionize if they so choose.

HB2289 would establish that predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights are subject to penalties for worker misclassification. It would ensure newly formed unions and their corporate counterparts have access to mediation and arbitration as they work to complete their first contract. Lastly, it would refine the process for unions to collect fair-share fees that would cover the costs of representing all workers in the collective bargaining unit.


Labor and Industry: Representatives Jim Cox and Patrick Harkins

HB2362 would provide job protections for people who are forced to miss work because they have been quarantined by the government or medical community.

HB2396  would establish the presumption that the worker’s medical condition or inability to work was a result of their work-related duties if a life-sustaining worker contracts an infectious disease that requires hospitalization, quarantine, isolation or other controlled measures.

HB2557 would amend the Unemployment Compensation Law to provide more clarity for claimants and employers about what constitutes good cause to refuse work or compelling cause to quit work – while remaining eligible for UC benefits. This would provide temporary provisions related to COVID-19.

HB2777 would ensure essential workers can stay at home when they or their family is presumed positive with COVID-19 and that they have a job to return to when they recover. Many of the essential workers and caregivers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic were left out of the federal legislation.