North Carolina Labor Laws

North Carolina Labor Laws (2024 Guide For Employers)

It’s essential for employers and employees working in the state of North Carolina to have a solid understanding of North Carolina labor laws.

  • Are you struggling to understand how many consecutive hours you can work in North Carolina?
  • Curious about the state law regarding breaks for private employers?
  • Concerned about promised wages and what to do if your employer doesn’t pay up?

Understanding North Carolina’s labor laws can be complex, especially when it comes to issues like consecutive hours, breaks, and promised wages.

This article is for:

  • Private sector employees seeking clarity on their rights and obligations under state law.
  • Full-time workers interested in understanding their entitlements regarding breaks and promised wages.
  • Employers looking to ensure compliance with North Carolina’s labor regulations and avoid legal pitfalls in how they manage part-time and full-time employees in the state of North Carolina.

We understand the importance of knowing your rights and obligations in the workplace.

North Carolina’s labor laws establish a framework for fair employment practices within the state.

These regulations are designed to protect workers’ rights, set standards for wages, working hours, and ensure safety in the workplace.

Understanding these laws is crucial for both employers and employees within the state.

Disclaimer: Despite our best efforts to provide you with accurate information on this topic at the time of writing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content at the time of reading. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific guidance on North Carolina labor laws.

North Carolina Wage Laws

Minimum Wage

North Carolina’s minimum wage aligns with the federal minimum wage, currently standing at $7.25 per hour.

The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA) mandates that employers comply with the higher wage if there’s a discrepancy between state and federal law.

Tipped Employees

Employers of tipped employees in North Carolina can utilize a tip credit with a minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour, as long as the employee’s tips bring their hourly earnings to at least the standard minimum wage.

North Carolina Payment Laws

Pay Periods

North Carolina law dictates that employers must pay wages at least semi-monthly (twice a month). There are specific requirements on paydays and permitted deductions that employers must follow.

Final Paycheck

When employment is terminated, North Carolina employers are required to issue the final paycheck on or before the next regular payday for which the wages were earned.

North Carolina Overtime Laws

Overtime Eligibility

Non-exempt employees in North Carolina are eligible for overtime pay under both state and federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA).

Overtime Calculation

Overtime pay is calculated at one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a single workweek.


Certain categories of employees are exempt from overtime laws, such as executive, administrative, professional, and certain agricultural workers.

North Carolina Break Laws

Meal Breaks

North Carolina labor laws do not expressly require employers to provide meal breaks.

However, employers must compensate employees if they require them to work during a designated meal break.

Rest Breaks

North Carolina does not have laws mandating rest breaks for employees. However, federal regulations on workplace safety require reasonable break times for restroom use.

North Carolina Leave Requirements

Family and Medical Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees in North Carolina (and across the US) with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for qualifying reasons such as serious health conditions, caring for a new child, or addressing needs related to a family member’s military service.

Sick Leave

North Carolina does not have a statewide mandate for employers to provide paid sick leave. However, some local ordinances may have specific requirements.

Jury Duty

Employers in North Carolina are required to allow employees time off for jury duty. They cannot retaliate or discriminate against employees who fulfill their civic duty.

Child Labor Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina child labor laws set restrictions on the types of jobs, hours, and working conditions permissible for minors. These laws vary depending on the child’s age:

14 and 15 Years of Age

Permitted to work certain jobs with limitations on hours.

16 and 17 Years of Age

Have fewer restrictions on permissible jobs and work hours but still cannot engage in hazardous occupations.

North Carolina Hiring Laws

Employment Discrimination

North Carolina prohibits employment discrimination based on factors including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

Background Checks

Employers in North Carolina may conduct background checks, but they must comply with specific regulations ensuring the fairness and accuracy of the process.

Drug Testing

Employers may engage in drug testing, but they must follow proper procedures and be mindful of restrictions to protect employee privacy.

North Carolina Termination Laws

At-Will Employment

North Carolina is an “at-will” employment state. This means employers can terminate employees for any reason or no reason, as long as it’s not illegal (such as discrimination or retaliation).

Protected Activity

Employees cannot be fired for engaging in protected activities, such as reporting safety hazards, filing wage complaints, or participating in legal proceedings.

Occupational Safety in North Carolina


Workplace safety in North Carolina is governed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and enforced by the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL).

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have a general duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.

This includes identifying and mitigating workplace hazards, providing necessary safety equipment and training, and maintaining records related to workplace injuries and illnesses.

Additional Considerations for North Carolina Employers

Here are several important additional points for employers in North Carolina to keep in mind:

Workers’ Compensation

North Carolina mandates that employers with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance provides benefits to employees injured on the job.


Employers must maintain accurate records of employee wages, hours worked, and workplace injuries, adhering to relevant state and federal regulations.

Employment Posters

North Carolina employers are required to display specific workplace posters informing employees of their rights and protections under various labor laws.


North Carolina is a “right-to-work” state. This means employees cannot be compelled to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.

State vs. Federal Law

Where North Carolina law and federal law (such as the Fair Labor Standards Act) provide different standards for employee protections, the law providing the greater protection for employees applies.

How the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) Assists Employees

The NCDOL plays a crucial role in upholding North Carolina’s labor laws. Here’s how they help employees:

Wage and Hour Division

The Wage and Hour Division investigates and resolves complaints related to unpaid wages, minimum wage violations, overtime violations, and other wage-related issues.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Division

The OSH Division enforces workplace safety standards, conducts inspections, and helps employers improve workplace safety practices.

Resources and Information

The NCDOL provides a wealth of resources and information to employees on their website and through their offices, helping workers understand their rights and the legal protections afforded to them.

Where to Find Further Information

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of North Carolina labor laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in North Carolina, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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