North Carolina Leave Laws


Vacation Leave

In North Carolina, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. NC Dept. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. NC Statute 95-25.2(16).

If an employer establishes a vacation policy, the policy must address:

  • How and when vacation is earned so that the employees know the amount of vacation to which they are entitled;
  • Whether or not vacation time may be carried forward from one year to another, and if so, in what amount;
  • When vacation time must be taken;
  • When and if vacation pay may be paid in lieu of time off; and
  • Under what conditions vacation pay will be forfeited upon discontinuation of employment for any reason.

NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306.

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment, so long as the employer has properly notified its employees in writing of the vacation policy. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Dept. of Labor FAQs; NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306.

An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year, so long as the employer has properly notified its employees in writing of the vacation policy. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306; NC Dept. of Labor FAQs.

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306; NC Dept. of Labor FAQs.

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if the employer’s established policy or employment contract is silent on the matter. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306.

An employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time, so long as the employer has properly notified its employees in writing of the vacation policy. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Admin. Code 13 NCAC 12.0306; NC Dept. of Labor FAQs.

An employer may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it, so long as the employer has properly notified its employees in writing of the vacation policy. NC Statute 95-25.12; NC Admin. Code 13-12.0306; NC Dept. of Labor FAQs.


Sick Leave

North Carolina law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. NC Dept. of Labor FAQs

An employer in North Carolina may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.


Holiday Leave

North Carolina law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. NC Dept. of Labor FAQs In North Carolina, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our North Carolina State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of North Carolina as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.


Jury Duty Leave

An employer is not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury. No employer may discharge or demote any employee because the employee has been called for jury duty, or is serving as a juror. NC Statute 9-32


Voting Leave

North Carolina does not have a law which requires an employer to grant its employees leave, either paid or unpaid, to vote.


Bereavement Leave

North Carolina law does not require employers to provide employee bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice it maintains.


The Small Necessities Law

All employers in North Carolina must provide employees with up to four hours of unpaid leave every year to attend or be involved with the child’s school. This may include attending school functions, parent-teacher conferences, etc.


Domestic Violence Leave

In North Carolina, an employee may also not be demoted, fired, or disciplined for taking reasonable time off to obtain, or attempt to obtain, an order of protection from domestic violence for the employee or a minor child of the employee.


Family and Medical Leave Act

North Carolina does not have state family or medical leave laws, although the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies. FMLA states that any employer with over 50 employees for a minimum of twenty weeks during the previous or current year must adhere.

An employee working at the same company for over a year, who has worked more than 1,250 hours in 12 months and worked at a business with at least 50 workers in a 75-mile radius qualifies for FMLA.

Time off may be used:

  • To bond with a new child
  • To recover from a serious illness or injury
  • To take care of a family member with a severe health issue
  • To take care of a family member who suffered a severe injury while on active military duty
  • To handle qualifying exigencies or extenuating circumstances arising from a family member’s military service.

An employee may take a leave of up to three months in one year, and this leave will renew every twelve months if the employee remains eligible. An employee may take up to 26 weeks off to care for an injured service member in a year.

An employee will be reinstated to their original or an equivalent position when they return. Employees are also entitled to continue paying into and receiving healthcare benefits while on leave at the same cost they pay while working.


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We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.