North Carolina Minimum Wage Laws




Minimum wage

North Carolina’s current minimum wage is $7.25.

North Carolina’s Wage and Hour Act exempts many employees covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act from its minimum wage, overtime, youth employment, and recording keeping requirements, specifically those employees who work for enterprises engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act. NC Statute 95-25.14(a)(1) Thus, many employers and employees in North Carolina should refer to the Fair Labor Standards Act and its regulations for purposes of determining minimum wage and overtime rights and responsibilities. There are additional exemptions to North Carolina’s minimum wage, overtime, youth employment, and record keeping requirements as set forth below.

North Carolina law requires that its minimum wage be the same as the federal minimum wage set forth in the FLSA if it is higher than the rate set forth in its Wage and Hour Act. NC Statute 95-25.3(a)





Tip minimum wage

North Carolina’s minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13.

North Carolina’s law defines tips as any money that exceeds the amount due a business for goods, food, drink, services, or articles that is given by a given or left by a customer for an employee. NC Statute 95-25.2(15) Tips do not include mandatory service charges customers are required to pay. NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(b)

Employers may pay employees tipped wages if:

  • the employees customarily receive more than twenty dollars ($20) per month in tips;
  • the employees are notified in advance they will be paid the tipped wage rate;
  • the employees are permitted to retain all tips; and
  • the employer maintains accurate and complete records of tips received by employees as certified by the employee either monthly or each pay period.

NC Statute 95-25.2(15); NC Statute 95-25.3(f); NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(e)

If employees refuse to certify tips received or does not do so accurately, an employer may still pay employees the tipped minimum wage if it can show either:

  • similarly situated employees received tips in the amount claimed; or
  • by any other reliable method, the employee regularly receives tips in the amount claimed.

NC Statute 95-25.3(f); NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(g)

When customers pay tips by credit card, the employer must pay the tips to the appropriate employees no later than the next payday. An employer may deduct from employees’ tips the portion of credit card fees attributable to the tips. NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(d)



Tip pooling and sharing

North Carolina law permits employers to require tipped employees to participate in a tip pooling arrangement. NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(c) Tip pooling is defined as an arrangement where all or part of contributing employees tips are combined to be divided among all participating employees according to a pre-set formula. Tip pool arrangements are valid in North Carolina if:

  • employees are notified of the arrangement before the pay period in which they will participate;
  • employees are not required to contribute more than 15% of their tips received to the tip pool; and
  • only employees who customarily and regularly receive tips participate in the tip pool.

NC Admin. Code 13-12.0303(d)



Subminimum wage

Employees with disabilities

North Carolina minimum wage laws allow employers to pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage if it files an application and obtains a certificate to do so from North Carolina Wage and Hour Bureau. Typically, an employer will not be approved to pay a disabled employee less than 50 percent of the standard minimum wage; however, a lower wage may be approved if it is shown that the employee has multiple disabilities or is otherwise so severely impaired a lower rate is justified. A certificate covers a three year period and may be renewed by the Wage and Hour Bureau. NC Statute 95-25.3(c); NC Admin. Code 13-12.0202.



Trainees

North Carolina minimum wage laws does not permit employers to pay trainees a wage rate less than the standard minimum wage. NC Statute 95-25.14(a)(1)(b)



Apprentices

North Carolina minimum wage law allows employers to pay apprentices, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 90 percent of the standard minimum wage. NC Statute 95-25.3



Learners

North Carolina minimum wage law allows employers to pay learners, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 90 percent of the standard minimum wage. NC Statute 95-25.3



Student learners

North Carolina minimum wage law allows employers to pay student learners, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 90 percent of the standard minimum wage. NC Statute 95-25.3



Student workers

North Carolina minimum wage law allows employers to pay student workers, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 90 percent of the standard minimum wage. NC Statute 95-25.3