Whether you own a startup or have been in business for many years, it’s important to be familiar with federal and North Carolina employment laws. Workers have rights, and any violation by an employer is taken very seriously. This means you could be stuck with a large fine, have your operations shut down or you could even face jail time. Your employees have put their trust in you to treat them fairly, which some employers use to their advantage by cutting corners when it comes to following labor laws. Because of this, state and federal governments have made it a requirement for businesses to hang posters that provide employees with information about their rights as workers and who to contact if those rights have been violated. In this article, we’ll discuss those rights and other important laws, including:
- Wages and payment policies
- Leave laws
- Child labor laws
Wage & Wage Payment
The minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25 for hourly employees. Any hours worked over 40 in a week must be paid at 1.5x the employee’s wage. Tipped employees only need to be paid $2.13 per hour if they make more than $20 in tips per month. However, employees must be notified upon hire that they will be paid a tip wage. Employers must allow employees to retain all tips, unless your business allows tips pooling in which case, the employees will split tips. Employees must be paid for all hours worked, including training time. North Carolina does not require that employers provide breaks, although if the employer chooses to do so, all breaks must be paid except meal breaks.
Payment can be given either daily, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly and can be paid as cash, money order, negotiable checks, direct deposit or as a payroll card. If an employee chooses to be paid by direct deposit, you must allow them to choose their own financial institution. For those choosing to be paid by payroll card, the card must support functionality so that the employee can withdraw their entire paycheck on payday with no fees on the first withdrawal. If an employee is terminated or resigns, all of their remaining wages must be paid on the next regular payday, regardless of the reason for the separation.
Under certain circumstances it is allowable for the employer to make deductions from an employee’s paycheck. If there are cash or inventory shortages or if any loss or damage to property has occurred, an employee may deduct wages with seven days written notice and an itemized statement of all deductions. Any deduction made cannot reduce overtime pay or put the employee’s wages below minimum wage. Businesses can also make employees buy their own uniforms and pay for any pre-hire medical exams or drug tests.
North Carolina’s requirements for paid time off are fairly simple. Here’s a list of which types of paid leave are not required:
- Vacation time
- Sick time
- Holiday pay
- Jury duty
- Voting leave
If that seems like an exhaustive list of typical types of leave, it’s because it is. North Carolina doesn’t require employers to offer any paid time off.
Child Labor Laws
In North Carolina, employers must follow all federal child labor laws, but the state also has a few extra requirements. These requirements restrict the types of jobs and number of hours that people under 18 years of age can work. They also dictate that anyone under 16 years old cannot drive on public roads while they are on the clock regardless of if they have a license to drive.
There are 17 types of work deemed as hazardous occupations by the federal government, and North Carolina has nine additional. The nine additional detrimental occupations are:
- Welding, brazing and torch cutting
- Any job where quartz or other forms of silicone dioxide or asbestos silicate is present in powdered form
- Any job that involves lead exposure
- Any job that involves benzene
- Any job in the canning, seafood or poultry industry that involves cutting or slicing machines, freezing or packaging
- Any job that has the risk of falling more than 10 feet
- Electrical work
- Any jobs required to be done in confined spaces
- Any job that requires respirators
Children have a special set of work hour limitations depending on their age. 14- and 15-year-olds can only work three hours a day during the school year up to 18 hours per week and eight hours a day when school is not in session for up to 40 hours a week. They can only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., although that time frame extends to 9 p.m. during the summer months when school is not in session, and need a 30 minute break after five consecutive hours of work. 16- and 17-year-olds who are still enrolled in high school cannot work between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they obtain written permission from both their parents and school principal.
As you can see, labor laws can be pretty extensive, and we’ve only outlined a few of the most basic requirements here. At Lodestar, we can help you navigate the ins and outs of both state and federal employment laws. Contact us today and we’ll work with you to make sure your business is in working order.