North Carolina Labor Laws

April 9th 2024

This article covers:

What are North 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.

North Carolina Minimum Wage $7.25
North Carolina Overtime 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($10.88 for minimum wage workers)
North Carolina Breaks Breaks not required by law

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

To ensure fair hiring practices, North Carolina employers with 15 or more workers must provide equal opportunities to job seekers regardless of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Political affiliation

However, if certain qualifications are necessary for a particular job, employers may hire based on religion, sex, or age. Despite this, North Carolina veterans are given preferential treatment as a gesture of gratitude for their service. This includes preferences in recruitment, wages, promotions, evaluations, and termination.

North Carolina is classified as a “right-to-work” state, which gives employees the autonomy to decide whether or not they would like to join a labor union. The laws in place in North Carolina ensure that employees cannot be compelled to become or continue being a member of any organization, nor can an employer require an employee to abstain from joining any labor union or organization as a condition of employment. Additionally, an employer cannot mandate that their employees pay any dues, fees, or other charges to an organization as a condition of employment. In the event that an employee suffers job discrimination due to their membership or non-membership with a labor union or organization, they are entitled to begin a court proceeding in the state of North Carolina.

In North Carolina, employers have the legal right to terminate employees at any time and for any reason. However, it should be noted that any termination based on certain demographics such as age, sex, religion, color, disability, or pregnancy is illegal. Furthermore, retaliation against employees who report violations, make complaints, or file charges of discrimination is prohibited. Lastly, employees also have the option to resign from their job without facing any penalties or losses, and for any reason they choose.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to pay your employees all their due wages, regardless of whether they voluntarily leave or are terminated. This needs to be done on or before the next scheduled payday.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in North Carolina?

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

  • Health Benefits Laws – North Carolina provides health insurance coverage options for employees who have been terminated from their job, whether it was voluntary or involuntary. They have the opportunity to continue their health insurance for 18 months under the State Continuation law. This includes hospital, surgical, and major medical benefits, while dental, vision care, and prescription drug benefits are not included. The federal COBRA option is also available, but only for employees of businesses with more than 20 employees. Eligible terminated employees and their dependents have the option to continue their health benefits for up to 18 months under COBRA.
  • OSHA Law- In North Carolina, workplace safety is a top priority. The state has its own State Plan in place for workplace safety, which is approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, it’s important to note that federal OSHA still has the power to monitor the State Plan. The North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health (NC OSH) division handles occupational safety and health matters in the private sector, with some exceptions. Federal OSHA covers any issues not addressed by the State Plan. In addition to adhering to OSHA standards, the NC OSH Division has specific standards related to hazardous waste operations and emergency response, communication towers, electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, steel erection, personal protective equipment and life-saving equipment, bloodborne pathogens, communication towers, blasting and use of explosives, non-ionizing radiation, and field sanitation. The North Carolina State Plan also provides on-site consultations and regular programs to help reduce injuries and fatalities in the workplace.
  • Whistleblower Laws – The whistleblower law in North Carolina aims to protect individuals who report fraudulent or false claims. According to the North Carolina False Claims Act, any person who knowingly makes a false claim, uses false statements or records, avoids paying the State, or decreases the amount paid to the State, will be liable to the State for three times the actual amount, costs of a civil action, and civil penalties ranging from $5,500 to $11,000 for each violation. On the other hand, whistleblowers who report these violations may receive 15%-25% of the claim settlement if the State chooses to process it. If the State does not intervene, the whistleblower can proceed with an action and receive 25%-30% of the amount recovered. Additionally, if a whistleblower faces adverse employment action, including harassment or suspension, because of their whistleblowing, they are entitled to compensation for damages, back pay with interest, attorney fees, and litigation costs. A complaint must be filed within 6 years of the alleged violation for the whistleblower to qualify for protection and compensation.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – In North Carolina, all departments, agencies, institutions, commissions, and bureaus are mandated to maintain employee records for at least five years. The records must include basic information such as name, age, date of employment, contract terms, current position and title, salary, as well as details on any changes in position, promotion, demotion, etc. Any individual who desires to review these records can do so during business hours. Additionally, these regulations also extend to employers with employees under the age of 18.

North Carolina Payment Laws

What is the Minimum Payment in North Carolina?

Employees in North Carolina are required to follow the federal wage regulations, which means that the state minimum wage is aligned with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in North Carolina?

Certain occupations have been declared exempt from the minimum wage law by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including:

  • Bona fide executives
  • Administrative workers, learned and creative professionals who earn at least $684 per week on a salary basis
  • Computer employees who earn at least $684 per week or $27.63 per hour
  • Highly compensated employees earning $107,432 or more per year
  • Outside sales employees, minors, and tipped employees.

In North Carolina, a tipped employee is one who earns more than $20 in tips per month and is entitled to a federal compensation of $2.13 per hour, although their total earnings per hour must equal the federal minimum of $7.25 with the employer obliged to make up the difference. Youth wages under FLSA require employees under 20 years of age to be paid at least $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of work, with a minimum wage of $7.25 taking effect thereafter or when the worker turns 20. Additionally, full-time students may be paid 85% of the minimum wage under federal law.

What is the Payment Due Date in North Carolina?

Employers in North Carolina have the flexibility to choose from five payroll frequencies to pay their employees. These include daily, weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, and monthly. While most employees receive paychecks as often as every week, those who earn bonus or commission-based pay may receive paychecks as infrequently as once a year.

What are North Carolina Overtime Laws?

According to the law, workers who clock in more than 40 hours a week are entitled to overtime pay equivalent to one and a half times their regular hourly rate. However, federal mandates don’t necessitate the payment of overtime for work done on days off, weekends, or public holidays.

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in North Carolina?

According to federal law, there are some employees and professions that do not qualify for overtime pay. These include:

  • Bona fide executives
  • Administrative employees
  • Learned and creative professionals
  • Computer employees who earn a certain amount per week
  • Highly compensated employees
  • Outside sales employees

However, the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW) in North Carolina does allow certain salaried employees to receive overtime pay. To be eligible for FWW, employees must receive a fixed salary, have fluctuating work hours, and earn at least $7.25 per hour.  

What are North Carolina Time Off/Break Laws?

As per both the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not mandated to grant their employees aged 16 years or more rest breaks or meal breaks.

What are the Exceptions to Break Law in North Carolina?

If a break lasts longer than 20 minutes and employees are not required to work during that time, they will not be compensated for it. However, telephone operators may be an exception to this rule. In North Carolina, employers are not obligated to provide a breakroom or a separate smoking room for employees who want to take a smoke break.

What are North Carolina Breastfeeding Laws?

In North Carolina, mothers are legally allowed to breastfeed in public, but there are no state regulations regarding breastfeeding at work. However, under federal law, non-exempt employees have the right to take breaks, for up to a year after giving birth, to express breast milk. Additionally, employers must provide a private room, other than a bathroom, specifically designated for breastfeeding.

What are North Carolina Leave Laws?

In North Carolina there are two types of leave: required and non-required.

What is North Carolina Required Leave?

North Carolina employers are legally required to provide their employees with leaves of absence, including:

  • Holiday Leave (Public Employers) – North Carolina employers are legally required to provide their employees with leaves of absence as detailed in the table below
  • Sick Leave – North Carolina employees who are eligible for sick leave include full-time permanent, probationary, and time-limited employees who earn 8 hours per month (96 hours annually). Additionally, part-time (half-time or more), permanent, probationary, and time-limited employees earn sick leave at a prorated amount for scheduled work time. Sick leave can be utilized for an array of reasons including illness or injury, doctor appointments, childbirth, immediate family care, death in the family, donations to immediate family, and child adoption up to 30 days per parent.
  • Vacation Leave (Public Employers) – As an employee of North Carolina, you have the right to vacation leave based on your employment status. Full-time permanent, probationary, and time-limited employees are eligible for vacation leave, with the number of days granted each year depending on their length of total state service. If you have worked for less than 5 years, you are granted 14 days of vacation leave each year. If you have worked for 5-10 years, you are granted 17 days, for 10-15 years you’re granted 20, for 15-20 years you’re granted 23, and if you have worked for 20 or more years, you’re granted 26 days. Part-time employees who work half-time and more are also eligible for vacation leave at a prorated rate.
  • Family and Medical Leave – The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period. There are several reasons why an employee may use FMLA, including taking care of a newborn, adopted or foster child, caring for a sick family member, or dealing with their own illness. Eligible employees can be full-time, part-time (with at least 1,040 hours in the last year), or temporary/intermittent/part-time (with at least 1,250 hours in the last year).
  • Family Illness Leave – Once an employee exhausts their FMLA benefit, they may utilize their Family Illness Leave benefit. This allows them to take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child, parent, or spouse in a 5-year period. This benefit cannot be used for the employee’s own illness. Eligible employees for this benefit include those who are full-time or work at least half-time, and have been employed for 12 months with 1,040 hours in pay status in the prior 12 months.
  • Paid Parental Leave – If you’re a new parent (by birth, adoption, or foster care), you can take advantage of the Paid Parental Leave benefit. You’ll get 4 to 8 weeks of paid leave to recover from childbirth or bond with your newborn, and you’ll be paid at 100% of your regular salary during this time.
  • Voluntary Shared Leave – If an employee or their family member is experiencing a prolonged medical condition, they may be eligible for up to 2,080 hours of shared leave. However, state employees can only donate their leave if they have enough time saved up. This can include vacation/bonus or sick leave, and can be donated to both immediate and non-family members.
  • Community Service Leave – State employees can take community service leave to volunteer in schools, non-profit organizations, and other community-related services. The amount of leave granted depends on the type of employee, ranging from 24 hours per year for full-time employees to none for temporary or part-time employees. Community service leave can also be used to attend academic or artistic events for the employee’s child, perform volunteer service, fundraise, assist with voting, or volunteer in soup kitchens or homeless shelters.
  • Military Leave – North Carolina state employees who are members of the military have different types of paid and unpaid leave available to them depending on the type of service. They can receive up to 120 hours of paid leave per year for active duty training, inactive duty training, and physical examinations. For reserve active duty, they may receive up to 30 calendar days of pay followed by the difference between military pay and their annual salary. Military leave without pay is also available for extended active duty, hospitalization during active duty, drills, and other uniformed service duty. For Civil Air Patrol and State Defense Militia members, up to 120 hours of unpaid or paid military leave per calendar year is available, respectively.
  • Civil Leave – In North Carolina, both full-time and part-time employees (who work more than half-time) can take non-job-related civil leave, while those who work less than half-time or are on a temporary or intermittent basis are also eligible. However, there are some differences in leave options and requirements for jury duty and instead court attendance. Specifically, employees who serve on a jury receive paid leave and compensation, as well as any fees earned. Those who appear as witnesses have the option to either not take leave and turn fees to the agency or use vacation leave and keep the fees. Eligible employees attending court in an official capacity do not receive leave and must turn over any witness fees.
  • Blood, Bone Marrow, and Organ Donorship Leave – Employees in North Carolina are encouraged to take part in donation programs by receiving paid time off for blood donation, pheresis procedures, and bone marrow transplants. In addition, organ donors may be eligible for as much as 30 days of paid leave.
  • American Red Cross Disaster Service Leave – If you are a disaster service volunteer with the American Red Cross, you may be eligible for up to 15 paid workdays within a 12-month period.

What is North Carolina Non-Required Leave?

In North Carolina, employers are not required by law to offer certain types of leave, such as holiday and vacation leave for private employers, bereavement leave, and voting leave. However, some employers may choose to provide these benefits at their discretion.

  • Holiday Leave (Private Employees) – Private employees in North Carolina are not legally allowed to take time off on holidays, unlike state employees.
  • Vacation Leave (Private Employees) – Employers in the private sector are not required to offer vacation leave, whether it is paid or unpaid, to their employees, similar to the way they are not mandated to provide holiday leave.
  • Bereavement Leave – When an immediate family member, close friend, relative, or someone similar passes away, a person can take leave. Unfortunately, in North Carolina, employers are not obligated to provide employees with paid time off for such instances.
  • Voting Leave – It has been observed that North Carolina employees are not entitled to take leaves of absence in order to vote.

Holidays as they are recognized in North Carolina (for public employees):

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 2-Jan-24
Martin Luther King Jr. 16-Jan-24
Good Friday 7-Apr-24
Memorial Day 29-May-24
Independence Day 4-Jul-24
Labor Day 4-Sep-24
Veterans Day 10-Nov-24
Thanksgiving November 23 & 24, 2024
Christmas December 25, 26 & 27, 2024

Learn more in detail about North Carolina Leave Laws.

North Carolina Child Labor Laws

In order to uphold a safe and healthy workplace for minors, employers in North Carolina must adhere to the child labor guidelines set forth at the federal level.

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

In North Carolina, the hours that minors can work are regulated by federal laws. Kids who are 13 years old and younger can’t work under federal law, except in certain situations like working for their parents or delivering newspapers, or if they are in the entertainment industry. If you’re aged 14 or 15, there are some restrictions on the hours you can work. For example, you can’t work more than 3 hours on a school day, no more than 8 hours on a non-school day and no more than 18 hours each week when school is in session. However, you can work up to 40 hours in a week when school is not in session. Additionally, there are some restrictions on the times of day you can work. For instance, you can work between 7-7 PM, except for non-school days from June 1 through Labor Day when you can work until 9 PM. There are no time restrictions for minors aged 16 and 17 related to the number of daily working hours. Nonetheless, North Carolina has its own laws regarding working regulations for minors. One such regulation is that kids enrolled in grades 12 or lower can’t work between 11 PM and 5 AM on a school day unless they have written permission from their parents and principal.

According to federal regulations, minors are required to take a 30-minute break after working for 5 consecutive hours.

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in North Carolina?

North Carolina state law has several restrictions in place to protect minors aged under 18 from undertaking hazardous or detrimental jobs. These occupations include:

  • welding
  • working with hazardous materials like asbestos or lead
  • work that involves a risk of falling from a height of 10 feet or higher
  • working as an electrician or electrician’s helper
  • working in confined spaces
  • using respirators

In addition to state laws, federal provisions also prohibit minors from performing certain jobs. However, there are some exceptions, as the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act permits 16- and 17-year-olds to drive for business purposes within a 25-mile radius of their workplace. The act also allows minors aged 14 to 17 to work in a workroom with tanning beds as long as the beds are not in operation.

Learn more in detail about North Carolina Child Labor Laws.

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.