South Carolina Labor Laws

March 19th 2024

This article covers:

What are South Carolina Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

South Carolina Minimum Wage $7.25
South Carolina Overtime Laws 1.5 times the rate of regular pay after working 40 hours in a workweek
($10.88 per hour for minimum wage workers)
South Carolina Break Laws Breaks not required by law

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in South Carolina?

In accordance with the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, individuals applying for employment have the right to a just hiring procedure. Consequently, South Carolina employers are forbidden from excluding individuals from employment or providing different treatment on the basis of any of these attributes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Disability

In the state of South Carolina, the “at-will employment” principle is utilized, allowing either the employer or employee to terminate their employment at any point without providing a specific reason. This applies to private business employees, unless otherwise stated in their contract. When an employee is terminated, their employer is required to provide their final paycheck either within 48 hours or on the next scheduled payday, not exceeding 30 days from the separation date.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in South Carolina?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in South Carolina that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • Ban-the-Box Law – In order to give former prisoners a better chance of being hired, numerous states throughout the United States have implemented a “fair chance” hiring strategy. These laws have become known as “Ban-the-box” policies, as they stop employers from initially asking about a job applicant’s criminal history. One state that is yet to implement these laws is South Carolina, but the City of Columbia did succeed in passing such a policy in 2014, which applies to all employers in the city. This law prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a “conditional job offer”. Nonetheless, the employer is still entitled to revoke the offer after a criminal background check has been performed.
  • COBRA Law – If you live in South Carolina and find yourself without a job, you may still be able to keep your health insurance under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This federally provided option gives employees the ability to continue their health insurance coverage in situations where they might otherwise lose it, such as if their work hours are cut drastically, they get a divorce, experience a serious health issue or have a family member who is dealing with such an ailment. COBRA laws apply to companies that employ more than 20 people, and the insurance can be extended for up to 36 months. The cost of COBRA is generally 102% of what you were paying for your original coverage. If you’re working for a smaller company with fewer than 20 employees, you may still have access to help through the South Carolina Mini-COBRA, which lets you maintain coverage for up to six months.
  • OSHA Laws – In order to maintain safety in the workplace, it is the responsibility of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to oversee and regulate security standards and practices. This includes conducting routine inspections to ensure compliance with requirements. In the event of any workplace injuries or fatalities, it is important to report these occurrences to the South Carolina Division of OSHA.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – South Carolina’s laws protect workers who report violations of state or federal laws from being punished by their employer. Any threat, firing or retaliation by the employer is prohibited. However, the employee must file the report in good faith to qualify for protection.
  • Background Check Laws – When South Carolina employers conduct background checks on prospective employees, they must comply with the regulations outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It is important for employers to give advanced written notice before gathering background information, as mandated by the FCRA. Additionally, during the initial application process, employers cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal history due to the state’s “Ban-the-Box” law. However, certain occupations such as child care center staff, charter school personnel, direct care providers, police officers, private investigators, and firefighters may require criminal background checks.
  • Drug And Alcohol Testing Laws – In South Carolina, there are currently no legal regulations that prohibit employers from conducting drug or alcohol tests on their employees.
  • Record-Keeping Laws – The South Carolina Code mandates that businesses maintain precise and enduring records of their employees. This includes important information such as the employee’s name, address, and social security number. Information about gross earnings, pay periods, wage payments, termination dates, and absence dates must also be recorded. Employers must keep these records for a minimum of four years in an accessible location to facilitate any necessary inspections.

South Carolina Payment Laws

To start off, let’s take a look at the laws that govern how much employees must be paid. We’ll delve into the details of minimum wage standards, including any exceptions that may apply.

What is the Minimum Payment in South Carolina?

South Carolina has yet to establish a state minimum wage law. Consequently, the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) federal minimum wage rate applies. As of now, the FLSA-regulated employee minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour.

In the United States, employees who commonly receive tips at work are referred to as “tipped employees” according to federal law. South Carolina doesn’t have a minimum wage law, which means that tipped employees can be paid $2.13 per hour, the federal tipped minimum wage rate. However, this rate is only applicable if the combined direct wages and the tipped amount make up at least $7.25, which is the federal minimum wage. If it turns out that the employee isn’t receiving enough money, the employer must cover the difference in pay.

There are certain types of wages, called subminimum wages, that pay less than the federal, state, or local minimum wage. These wages can be applied to certain groups such as employees with disabilities, students, and trainees. However, South Carolina has recently passed a bill to eliminate subminimum wages for disabled workers as of 2024. Aside from wages for disabled workers, there are other subminimum wages such as training wages and a student-learner program, which allow for employers to pay their employees at a rate below the minimum wage. The training wage in South Carolina is $4.25, and under the student-learner program, the minimum wage rate for full-time students is $6.16.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, only the federal FLSA laws are applicable to employees. Certain occupations are given exemption from minimum wage requirements under these laws. These include jobs like:

  • Farm workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Newspaper deliverers
  • Occasional babysitters
  • Seasonal amusement park employees
  • Executive, administrative, and professional employees who earn more than $684 a week

What is the Payment Due Date in South Carolina?

South Carolina currently lacks any legal provisions dictating how often employers must remunerate their employees. Regardless of this, employers must still set up and notify their staff of dates for regular paydays and any alterations that could affect them.

What are South Carolina Overtime Laws?

When it comes to overtime regulations, South Carolina abides by the federal FLSA regulations. According to these rules, any work done beyond 40 hours in one workweek is considered overtime. A workweek is a regularly recurring period of 168 hours that stretches across seven 24-hour periods. It may not correspond with traditional weekdays and working hours. Any overtime hours worked should be compensated at 1.5 times the standard rate of pay.

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in South Carolina?

Some occupations are exempted from the overtime rules, for instance, jobs like:

  • Executive, administrative, and professional employees earning over $684 a week
  • Farm workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Commissioned employees within the auto industry’s retail
  • Service establishments
  • Railroad employees
  • Taxi drivers
  • Motion picture theater workers

Learn more in detail about South Carolina Salaried Employees Laws and South Carolina Overtime Laws.

What are South Carolina Time Off/Break Laws?

In South Carolina, there aren’t any laws at the state or federal level that mandate employers to provide meal breaks or rest periods during work hours. However, if a company chooses to offer breaks, they need to meet certain requirements. For instance, if an employee takes a rest period that lasts 20 minutes or less, it must be paid and counted towards their work hours. On the other hand, a meal period should be longer than 20 minutes and doesn’t have to be paid, as long as the employer releases the employee from all their responsibilities during this time.  

What are South Carolina Breastfeeding Laws?

According to the FLSA law at the federal level, employers situated in South Carolina are required to allow extra break time for mothers who are nursing. The employee has the right to take a suitable amount of time and necessary provisions to express their breast milk. Moreover, the employers have to arrange suitable facilities for nursing mothers, which exclude toilet stalls or restrooms. It’s important to note that the privilege of taking nursing breaks is valid for up to a year post-childbirth.  

What are South Carolina Leave Laws?

South Carolina provides two types of leaves – required and non-required leaves.

What is South Carolina Required Leave?

Following, we will discuss the required leaves in South Carolina, according to its laws.

  • Family And Medical Leave – If you are working in South Carolina and face medical emergencies, you may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This leave can be taken for various reasons, such as childbirth, adoption, serious health conditions, and taking care of a family member with a serious health condition. To be eligible for this leave, you have to fulfill certain requirements as mentioned in federal law. Specifically, you must have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months prior to the leave and have worked 1,250 hours in those 12 months.
  • Jury Duty Leave – Employers in South Carolina are not allowed to take any disciplinary action against employees who attend jury duty. However, employees may have to use their vacation time to attend, and they may not be paid during this time. Private employers cannot stop their employees from attending court cases they were subpoenaed to, but they don’t have to pay them for the time they’re absent. Meanwhile, State employees are entitled to paid leave if they are subpoenaed to a litigation in which they don’t receive any personal benefit. Furthermore, they may keep any witness fee or travel expenses they receive.
  • Military Leave – If you’re a part of the armed forces, you can take unpaid military leave thanks to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Once you finish your deployment and come back, you’re guaranteed your previous job back. Just make sure to let your employer know beforehand, your active duty time doesn’t exceed a 5-year limit, your discharge isn’t negative and you adhere to a timely return. Additionally, you’ll receive all of the benefits and seniority you had before.
  • Bone Marrow Donation Leave – Employees who work in establishments with at least 20 employees in South Carolina may be eligible for paid leave to donate bone marrow. However, the employee must work an average of at least 20 hours per week and the maximum leave duration cannot exceed 40 hours, unless the employer approves. Additionally, the employer may require the employee to provide a medical certification about the reason and duration of the leave.
  • Emergency Response Leave (For State Employees) – If you’re a South Carolina State employee with certification from the American Red Cross, you’re eligible to take up to 10 paid days off each year to assist in disaster relief efforts. However, before taking this time off, you’ll need to get approval from your agency supervisor.
  • Sick Leave (For State Employees) – In South Carolina, public employees have the opportunity to accumulate a maximum of 15 days of sick leave on an annual basis. Managing personal needs, up to 10 days of this period are available for use as family sick leave.
  • Administrative Leave (For State Employees) – When state employees suffer injuries from doing their job, they’re placed on administrative leave instead of sick leave. This provides them with paid leave, but there’s a limit – it can’t go beyond 180 calendar days.
  • Bereavement Leave (For State Employees) – When a state employee experiences the loss of an immediate family member, they are entitled to take up to three days of paid bereavement leave. To do so, the employee must inform their supervisor and provide a statement that includes the name of the deceased and their relationship to them.
  • Vacation and Holiday Leave (For State Employees) – State employees who work full-time are eligible to receive vacation leave days based on their work schedule and length of employment. The rates differ for those who work a 37.5-hour, five-day workweek versus a 40-hour, five-day workweek. The number of vacation leave days accrued per year and hours accrued per month increase with the number of years worked. For example, employees who work a 37.5-hour, five-day workweek can accrue up to 30 vacation leave days per year if they have been with the state for 22 years or more. Those who work a 40-hour, five-day workweek can also accrue up to 30 vacation leave days per year if they have been with the state for 22 years or more.
  • Voting Time Leave (For State Employees) – If employees live too far away from their workplace to vote on time, they may be given time off to vote. This leave is limited to a maximum of 2 hours and the employer is required to pay for it.

What is South Carolina Non-Required Leave?

The following are the leave types that are not mandatory to be offered by the employer.

  • Sick Leave (Private Employees) – As of now, there are no rules mandating private employers in South Carolina to give their workers sick leave unless it is specifically outlined in the contract agreed upon by both parties.
  • Bereavement Leave (Private Employees) – In South Carolina, private employers are not obligated to offer bereavement leave to their employees, unless the contract between the employer and employee includes a clause that specifically requires it.
  • Vacation And Holiday Leave (Private Employees) – In South Carolina, employees who work for private companies do not have an automatic entitlement to vacation or holiday leave, unless it is specified in their contract.
  • Voting Time Leave – Employers in South Carolina do not have an obligation to give their employees time off for voting.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

South Carolina Child Labor Laws

When it comes to laws on child labor, South Carolina follows the same rules as the federal government under the FLSA.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in South Carolina?

When it comes to the legal working hours for minors, the FLSA has varying requirements for two different age groups: those under 16 and those between the ages of 16 and 17.

Age Category Work Hours
Under 16 School Days: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (max 3 hours) School is out of session: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (max 8 hours) Weekly (school in session): 18 hours Weekly (school is out of session): 40 hours
16 and 17 No particular restrictions

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in South Carolina?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has guidelines for which occupations are not allowed for individuals under 18 years old due to safety concerns. In South Carolina, minors are prohibited from working in the following dangerous occupations:

  • Boiler room operator
  • Excavator
  • Mill worker
  • Miner
  • Meat processing operator
  • Motor vehicle operator/servicer
  • Power-driven machinery operator
  • Roofer
  • Welder
  • Jobs in establishments that serve alcoholic beverages

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.