North Carolina Labor Law Breaks
With regard to breaks for workers 16 and older, North Carolina falls back on federal legislation. Only if it lasts less than 20 minutes must a meal break be paid if an employer wishes to offer one. As long as the employee is entirely relieved of all obligations, breaks longer than 30 minutes are considered meal intervals and do not require payment.
North Carolina Medical and Family Leave
North Carolina does not have a state law mandating leave for medical or family purposes. Instead, North Carolina used the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to regulate necessary absences. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows full-time employees the right to take a leave of absence for a maximum of twelve weeks.
These weeks must be taken consecutively and not be spread out over several months. Employers may require that employees take the full twelve weeks off and may not allow them to return to work early. If an employee wishes to return to work part-time before the twelve weeks have been completed, an employer has the right to deny this request.
An employer also has the right to hire a temporary employee to fill the vacancy but is required to terminate the temporary employee upon the full-time employee’s return. When returning to work an employee on leave is entitled to his or her former occupation or occupation of the same salary and benefit.
An employer cannot terminate an employee on leave unless the company is downsizing or needs to terminate employees for financial reasons. In these cases, this employee would have been terminated despite being on leave. An employer may also divide the employee on leave’s responsibilities among several other current employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that an expectant employee cannot be terminated due to pregnancy or due to the necessity of leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act cover most medical and psychological absences including maternity leave, caring for an ill child, hospitalization, caring for an elderly parent, or other illness. Maternity leave allows mothers to care for their newborns and adoptive parents to bond with their new children.
In 2009 North Carolina raised its minimum wage to reach that of the federal minimum wage of seven dollars and twenty-five cents. When the federal minimum wage increased in 2009 all states were required to raise their wages to match or exceed the federal standard. Despite the federal change, some states choose to increase their wages each year. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay their employees no less than this minimum standard. Some companies that make less than five hundred thousand dollars annually may be exempt from this requirement.
Tipped employees are also an exception to federal standards. By law, employers are allowed to pay tipped employees two dollars and thirteen cents per hour. This is legal as tips make up the wage differences. When the pay period ends, however, if an employee has not earned a minimum of five dollars and twelve cents per hour, the company is required to compensate for the difference.
Both federal and North Carolina State law require employees to be compensated for working more than forty hours a week. The federal overtime is set as one and a half times the normal hourly rate. This means that if an employee is normally paid eight dollars an hour, he or she will be paid twelve dollars an hour for each hour over forty he or she works.