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Law Changes Coming to Pennsylvania in 2021

statute of person holding scales

With every new year comes new laws. While laws can be introduced at various points throughout the year, we tend to take a look at law changes around the time January arrives. This is often when some of the biggest changes are introduced—especially January 1.

With 2021 right around the corner, we’ve started taking a look at what you can expect in regard to law changes for the new year in Pennsylvania. Some of the changes you can expect are in regard to new overtime rules, an online health insurance exchange, as well as updates on COVID-19 economic relief.

Understanding Why Laws Change

You may be wondering why laws change over time or how situations evolve that warrant new laws. While there are countless reasons for amendments and additions, some of the most common include the following:

  • A change in expectations of the legal system. As time passes, our expectations of the legal system change. While laws used to be seen as necessary to regulate behavior, now laws are used to uphold individuals’ rights and protect people from harm.
  • A change in community values. Values across society change over time. What is considered important and relevant with one generation may completely change by the time a new generation is in charge. To remain relevant, laws have to uphold and reflect the values and beliefs of society in the present time.
  • Evolving technology. Technology is constantly evolving and progressing. While there are many positives that come out of this, some features may be used in a harmful manner to society. Issues with personal security and safety have to be at the forefront of legislators’ minds, so people remain protected.
  • A change in community awareness. With access to social media and various news outlets, we are much more informed today and aware of the issues that affect the masses. Because of that, we put pressure on lawmakers to amend or introduce laws where we believe change needs to happen.

New Overtime Rules

In late 2019, the Department of Labor & Industry submitted a final regulation to modernize Pennsylvania’s overtime rules to the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission and legislative oversight committees. In total, nearly 400,000 workers could benefit from the updated laws—nearly 150,000 from overtime and 250,000 from overtime protections.

Prior to this decision, the state’s overtime rules had not been updated in more than 40 years. This meant that salaried workers earning as little as $23,660 a year could work over 40, 50, 60, or more hours per week and not be guaranteed overtime at time-and-a-half.

The new regulations ensure that employees who work overtime are fairly and fully compensated for their labor in accordance with the original intent of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act. This means that the salary threshold for executives, administrative, and professional workers from the federal overtime salary threshold will go from $455 per week, $23,660 annually, to $875 per week, $45,500 annually over the span of three years.

On January 1, 2020, the weekly threshold went from $455 to $684. Come January 1, 2021, the amount will increase to $780 per week. The final increase, to $780 will happen on January 1, 2022.

Online Health Insurance Exchange

House Bill 3, which was signed into law in July 2019, will take effect on January 1, 2021. This law creates an online health insurance exchange operated by the state in lieu of the federal government. According to lawmakers, the legislation will create lower premiums and increased access to health insurance.

According to Governor Wolf, the combined savings and anticipated federal government reinsurance contribution will save Pennsylvanian consumers up to $250 million in annual health insurance premiums.

COVID-19 Relief

On March 27, 2020, Governor Wolf signed Act 9 of 2020 into law. This law, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, amended the state’s compensation law in several ways. In regard to changes that apply to 2021, the state is offering interest-free payment plans to employers who demonstrate financial hardship. No interest on late payments will accrue or be charged until January 1, 2021.

These will not be the only law changes you see come to Pennsylvania as 2021 arrives. To stay current with the most recent law changes, especially those that potentially impact personal injury cases, keep in touch with Shrager, Sachs, & Blanco. We recognize the importance of having a comprehensive understanding of all state laws—especially the ones that have been changed or recently added. To learn more about PA’s law changes or for information on your rights as a personal injury victim, contact us today.

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