North Carolina Labor Laws 2024 | Wage and Hour Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina Labor Laws

North Carolina labor laws, including North Carolina labor laws 2024, impact the daily lives of employees and employers in North Carolina. Residents of North Carolina have many questions that affect them every day regarding North Carolina labor laws from minimum wage rates, overtime, wage payments, vacation and sick leave, child labor, meal and rest breaks, and more.

In addition to North Carolina labor laws, employer must also comply with federal labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and many other federal laws. And when federal laws are different from state North Carolina labor laws, usually companies must comply with the law that provides their workers the best protection.

Below we provide comprehensive information and resources regarding your more pressing North Carolina labor law questions to help you answer the question and help you make the right decision about you and your employment.

Minimum Wage

North Carolina’s current minimum wage is $7.25.

The minimum wage in NC must be, at minimum, equal to the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage is $2.13 per hour for employees who receive tips. 

A tipped employee receives more than $20 in tips per month, is told before employment that they will receive a tipped wage, and adhere to a tip pool system. 

For more information on North Carolina’s minimum wage laws, visit our North Carolina Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Related topic covered on other pages include:


North Carolina labor laws require an employer to pay overtime to employees, unless otherwise exempt, at the rate of on and one-half (1½) times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. NC Wage and Hour Act; NC Dept. of Workforce Solutions FAQs.

The overtime pay rules for federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may apply to full-time employees who work 40 hours in a workweek. For federally-defined exemptions and other regulations see FLSA: Overtime.

Prevailing Wages

North Carolina does not have a prevailing wage law that governs wage rates on government project or service contracts.

Under certain circumstances, employers in North Carolina may be required to pay residents wage rates established by federal prevailing wage rates and rules as a condition of employment. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the federal and state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain government services. See the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.

Meals and Breaks

North Carolina labor laws require employers to provide employees fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) years of age with a 30-minute break when scheduled to work over five (5) consecutive hours. NC Statutes 95-25.5(e).

North Carolina employers are not required to provide either a rest break (generally ten (10) or fifteen (15) minutes) or a meal break (usually thirty (30) minutes or more) for anyone who is sixteen (16) years of age or older. However, in accordance with federal law, if an employer chooses to provide additional breaks, they must be paid. Meal or lunch periods do not need to be paid, so long as the employee is free to do as they wish during the meal or lunch period. NC Dept. of Labor Facts.

Nurse Mother Breaks

North Carolina labor laws do not require employers to provide nursing mothers with breaks to express breast milk. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires certain employees to provide nonexempt nursing mothers for one (1) year following a child’s birth with reasonable rest breaks to express milk and private spaces, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk.

Vacation Leave

In North Carolina, employers are not required to provide unpaid or paid vacation benefits to their employees. However, if an employer offers benefits, they must comply with the terms established in the employment contract or the vacation leave policy. 

Any policy must address how and when vacation is earned, whether vacation time may be carried forward when that time must be taken, when and if vacation pay may be paid instead of time off, and under what conditions vacation pay may be forfeited. 

Employers may lawfully establish policies or enter into a contract that denies employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon the end of the contract or separation from employment. If it makes no mention if a business must pay for accumulated vacation time when employment ends. 

Information about North Carolina vacation leave laws may now be found on our North Carolina Leave Laws page.

Sick Leave

North Carolina does not obligate businesses to provide unpaid or paid sick leave benefits for their employees 

However, if an employer provides unpaid or paid benefits, they must adhere to the employment contract conditions or established sick leave policy. 

There are cases where North Carolina employers may be obligated to give unpaid sick leave to employees as stated by federal laws and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Information about North Carolina sick leave laws may now be found on our North Carolina Leave Laws page.

Holiday Leave

North Carolina state law does not obligate businesses to give workers paid or unpaid leave for holidays. However, an employer in North Carolina has the right to make an employee work during holidays. 

Moreover, a private employer doesn’t have to pay additional compensation for the time their employees worked during holidays unless the hours also qualify for federal overtime hours. 

If a business provides unpaid or paid holiday time, it must adhere to the conditions set out in the employment contract or established holiday leave policy. There are then also North Carolina state holidays that may apply.

Information about North Carolina holiday leave laws may now be found on our North Carolina Leave Laws page.

Jury Duty Leave

Employers are required to allow eligible employees to take time off to serve as a juror or serve on a grand jury. However, a business is not obligated to compensate workers for time spent on jury duty leave. Furthermore, a place of business does not have the right to harass, coerce, demote, or discharge an employee for carrying out their jury duty requirements.

Information about North Carolina jury duty leave laws may now be found on our North Carolina Leave Laws page.

Voting Leave

There are no laws in North Carolina stating that employers must provide unpaid or paid voting leave. Therefore, workers in North Carolina must vote on their own time.

Information about North Carolina voting leave laws may now be found on our North Carolina Leave Laws page.

Severance Pay

North Carolina labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.


Under certain circumstances, North Carolina residents may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits.

Workers in North Carolina who find themselves out of work may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Various requirements must, however, be met. First, the worker must register for work with the state’s job service office. They must be actively seeking employment, physically able, and available to work. 

Furthermore, to be eligible, the worker must be unemployed due to no fault of their own. If they quit their job for a legally viable reason, they should be eligible. Finally, they must be considered monetarily eligible; the base period includes four of the last five quarters, and they must have earned wages in at least two quarters. Workers must have made at least $790 in one of the previous two quarters in the base period.

See North Carolina State Unemployment Benefits.

Other North Carolina Labor Laws Topics and Resources

There are several other laws governing the employers and their workplaces. Below are those topics and resources:

RaceSex, including sexual harassmentGender expressionDisability
ColorSexual orientationReligionPregnancy
National OriginGender identityGenetic testing and genetic informationAge (40+)

Other State’s Labor Law and Wage and Hour Information

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