North Carolina Leave Laws

January 8th 2024

Recognizing the importance of employee well-being and the creation of a productive work environment, the need for time off from work cannot be overstated.

This article will delve into the legal obligations concerning leave in North Carolina, and the types of leaves offered to employees.

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

This Article Covers

North Carolina Required Leave
North Carolina Non-Required Leave

North Carolina Required Leave

North Carolina employers are legally required to provide their employees with certain leaves of absence. These include the following:

1. Holiday Leave (Public Employers) –

  • Eligibility: State employees.
  • Duration: Depends on the holiday as per the table below.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To celebrate a publically recognized occasion.

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

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 2-Jan-23
Martin Luther King Jr. 16-Jan-23
Good Friday 7-Apr-23
Memorial Day 29-May-23
Independence Day 4-Jul-23
Labor Day 4-Sep-23
Veterans Day 10-Nov-23
Thanksgiving November 23 & 24, 2023
Christmas December 25, 26 & 27, 2023

2. Sick Leave –

  • Eligibility: 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.
  • Duration: Up to 30 days per employee.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: 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.

3. Vacation Leave (Public Employers) –

  • Eligibility: 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.
    Part-time employees who work half-time and more are also eligible for vacation leave at a prorated rate.
  • Duration: 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.
    For working for 20 or more years, employees are granted 26 days.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: As an employee of North Carolina, you have the right to vacation leave based on your employment status. 

4. Family and Medical Leave – 

  • Eligibility: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 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).
  • Duration: Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: 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.

5. Family Illness Leave –

  • Eligibility: 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.
  • Duration: Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child, parent, or spouse in a 5-year period. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Once an employee exhausts their FMLA benefit, they may utilize their Family Illness Leave benefit.This benefit cannot be used for the employee’s own illness.

6. Paid Parental Leave –

  • Eligibility: New parent (by birth, adoption, or foster care).
  • Duration: 4 to 8 weeks of paid leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To recover from childbirth or bond with the employee’s newborn.

7. Voluntary Shared Leave –

  • Eligibility: Any employee or their family member who is experiencing a prolonged medical condition. 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.
  • Duration: Up to 2,080 hours of shared leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: The employee or a family member having a serious medical condition.

8. Community Service Leave –

  • Eligibility: State employees.
  • Duration: 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.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To volunteer in schools, non-profit organizations, and other community-related services.
    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.

9. Military Leave – 

  • Eligibility: North Carolina state employees who are members of the military.
  • Duration: Different types of paid and unpaid leave is available to eligible employees depending on the type of service as follows:
    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.
    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.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: For various military service requirements, including reserve active duty, Civil Air Patrol and State Defense Militia, as well as active duty training, inactive duty training, and physical examinations.
    Military leave without pay is also available for extended active duty, hospitalization during active duty, drills, and other uniformed service duty.

10. Civil Leave –

  • Eligibility: 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.
  • Duration:  The scheduled and expected duration of the jury service. Note: the employee is responsible to notify the employer of the expected datea and duration of the service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To serve on a jury or when subpoenaed as a witness.

11. Blood, Bone Marrow, and Organ Donorship Leave –

  • Eligibility: Employees in North Carolina.
  • Duration: For organ donors, as much as 30 days of paid leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To take part in donation programs by receiving paid time off for blood donation, pheresis procedures, and bone marrow transplants. In addition to organ donation.

12. American Red Cross Disaster Service Leave –

  • Eligibility: Disaster service volunteer with the American Red Cross.
  • Duration: Up to 15 paid workdays within a 12-month period.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: to serve when necessary for the various range of services called for by the American Red Cross in times of need.

North Carolina Non-Required Leave

In North Carolina, employers are not required by law to offer certain types of leave with some conditioned to certain employees only. However, some employers may choose to provide these benefits at their discretion.

The leaves that employers in North Carolina are not required to provide include:

1. Holiday Leave (Private Employees) –

Private employees in North Carolina are not legally allowed to take time off on holidays, unlike state employees.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Voting Leave –

It has been observed that North Carolina employees are not entitled to take leaves of absence in order to vote.

If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees in North Carolina, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in North Carolina, and your rights as an hourly employee in North Carolina. Learn more about North Carolina Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.