Tennessee Leave Laws

April 3rd 2024

Taking leave from work is essential for the well-being of employees. As a result, there are laws and regulations which outline the leave requirements for employers and employees.

This article explores the categories of leave available to employees under Tennessee Laws.

Tennessee has two types of leave: required and non-required, each encompassing specific guidelines and requirements. Mandatory laws relate to those working in the public sector. Private sector employers do not have to follow such requirements, although it is recommended that they do.

This Article Covers

Tennessee Required Leave
Tennessee Non-Required Leave

Tennessee Required Leave

In Tennessee, employers in the public sector are required to provide several types of leave to their employees. The categories of mandatory leave include:

1. Annual Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees in Tennessee who work at least 1,600 hours in a year are entitled to paid leave based on their accrued annual leave. Full-time employees who have been employed for more than 6 months, and part-time or seasonal employees who meet the hours requirement, are eligible for annual leave.
  • Duration: The amount of annual leave an employee can earn per month depends on their years of service, with a maximum of 42 days per year for those with over 20 years of service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Employees can use their accrued annual leave for any reason they choose.

2. Sick Leave

  • Eligibility: Full-time employees have the opportunity to accumulate sick leave days as long as they have worked a minimum of 37.5 hours weekly or 7.5 hours daily.
  • Duration: Employees can accumulate one sick leave day per month.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Can be used for circumstances including personal illness, disability caused by an accident, exposure to an infectious disease, sickness due to pregnancy or childbirth, adoption, medical or dental appointments, and the medical care of a family member, spouse, or parent.

3. Maternity Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees who have been working for an employer for over a year.
  • Duration: Entitled to up to 4 months of leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: This applies to situations such as adoption, pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing.

4. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

  • Eligibility: To be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous year. This applies to public agency employees, companies with 50 or more employees, and even public and private elementary or secondary school employees.
  • Duration: Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Unpaid leave is provided under this Act for employees with medical or family-related issues, including caring for a newborn child, adopting or fostering a child, caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or having a serious health condition themselves.

5. Holiday leave

  • Eligibility: All public employees.
  • Duration: For the duration of the public holiday.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: The occurrence of an official public holiday in the US.

The official federal holidays shown below are observed in the US:

Holiday 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

6. Jury Duty Leave

  • Eligibility: All employees are required to fulfil their jury duty service if summoned. In Tennessee, an employee is entitled to time off from work, but only if the service exceeds three hours.
  • Duration: The scheduled and expected duration of the jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When summoned by the court to fulfil jury duties.
  • Pay: Tennessee employers must provide a juror’s usual compensation for the time spent serving and travelling to and from jury duty. Employers with fewer than five employees are not required to compensate their employees for jury service.

7. Voting Leave

  • Eligibility: Every eligible voter has the right to take paid leave to vote. However, if the employment shift of a voter commences 3 or more hours after the opening of the polling station or ends 3 or more hours before the closing of polling, they will not be entitled to a voting leave of absence.
  • Duration: Up to 3 hours to cast the vote.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: If an employee wants to vote in an election.

8. Bereavement Leave

  • Eligibility: Any employee whose immediate family member has passed away may take a leave of absence. To receive this leave, an employee must have already accrued sick leave days.
  • Duration: 3 days of paid bereavement leave. If eligible, the employee can use an extra 2 days of sick leave in case of a family death.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be taken if an employee’s immediate family member has passed away.

 9. Educational Leave

  • Eligibility: Full-time, regular employees may be able to take a paid educational leave of absence.
  • Duration: The scheduled and expected duration of the education or training.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be taken for the purpose of improving your education or training, in areas that directly benefit the agency.
  • Pay: Employees will receive 75% of their regular salary during time away for educational pursuits.

10. Military Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees are eligible for paid military leave if they are a member of the Armed Forces or Tennessee National Guard, a member of the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol, or if they are a veteran.
  • Duration: Up to 20 workdays annually for a member of the Armed Forces or Tennessee National Guard, 15 workdays annually for United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol members and up to 4 hours annually for veterans.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: A variety of activities including active duty, active and inactive duty for training, full-time National Guard duty, examinations to assess ability to perform duties, funeral participation, NDMS-related duties, activation by the Governor, and to assist in disaster or emergency situations.

11. Special Leave Without Pay

  • Eligibility: Employees are able to request a special leave of absence in certain situations.
  • Duration: The agreed upon period of time.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: For those experiencing an extended illness and who have used up all of annual, sick, and compensatory leave; if there is a special work assignment or emergency given by the state or another governmental agency, for those who wish to take a break and have used up all annual, sick, and compensatory leave, for Officer of Employee Associations, athletic competitions, or Family and Medical Leave.

12. Compensatory Time

  • Eligibility: Employees who are exempt and hold non-executive positions, together with non-exempt workers who do not receive overtime payments in cash can receive paid time off.
  • Duration: For each hour worked over 37.5 hours in a week. However, there is a cap on the accrual of compensatory time, set at 480 hours.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When granted, employees are free to use their compensatory leave for any personal reason.
  • Pay: The employee will receive their average rate over the previous three years of employment or their current hourly rate.

13. Administrative Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees may be granted paid administrative leave to participate in state-administered assessments or job interviews with the state of Tennessee. In addition, employees who donate platelets through the Pheresis Program may also be eligible for administrative leave.
  • Duration: The duration of the assessment, interview or donation.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To participate in state-administered assessments, job interviews with the state of Tennessee or to donate platelets through the Pheresis Program.

Tennessee Non-Required Leave

Private employers in Tennessee are not obligated to provide the following types of leave (although it is recommended that they do so):

  • Annual Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Holiday Leave
  • Jury duty Leave
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Educational Leave
  • Military Leave
  • Special Leave Without Pay
  • Compensatory Time
  • Administrative Leave
  • Donor Leave

 If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees in Tennessee, you can read our guides on Your rights as a salaried employee in Tennessee, and Your rights as an hourly employee in Tennessee. You can also learn more about Tennessee 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.