Tennessee Labor Laws 2024 | Wage and Hour Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee Labor Laws

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

In addition to Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee labor law questions to help you answer the question and help you make the right decision about you and your employment.

Tennessee Minimum Wage

The state of Tennessee has not established its own minimum wage rate. This means the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies in Tennessee to all non-exempt workers. There are exceptions, including exempt workers and service workers who receive tips. Tip workers may be paid a rate of $2.13 an hour for their services.

All employees and employers should familiarize themselves with minimum wage laws in the state where they operate to prevent maltreatment and discrimination. To learn more about Tennessee’s minimum wage laws, visit our Tennessee Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Tennessee Overtime

Tennessee labor laws do not have laws governing the payment of overtime. This means that federal overtime pay laws apply in the state of Tennessee. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay non-exempt full-time employees one and a half times their regular hourly wages rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, some workers are considered exempt, either from both overtime and minimum wage laws or just overtime. See FLSA: Overtime to learn more.

Tennessee Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Tennessee may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services.

See the Tennessee Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) to learn more about prevailing wages.

Tennessee Meals and Breaks

Tennessee labor laws require employers to provide a 30-minute unpaid meal or rest period to employees who are scheduled to work six (6) consecutive hours, except in workplace environments where the nature of the business provides for ample opportunity to rest or take an appropriate break. TN Statute 50-2-103(h); TN Dept. of Labor FAQs.

Employers are not required by state law to provide any other breaks, including specific meal breaks. However, if an employer chooses to provide them, non-meal breaks, usually of the type lasting less than twenty (20) minutes, must be paid. See DOL: Breaks and Meal Periods to learn more.

Tennessee Nursing Mother Breaks

Tennessee labor laws protect mothers who are breastfeeding after childbirth. They require employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to employed mothers to express breast milk. However, this break time must only be provided if it can be done without disrupting regular operations. If possible, these breaks shall run concurrently with other breaks already provided by the employer to the employee to minimize disruptions.

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide employees who are nursing a room or other location in close proximity to the employees’ work areas. A toilet stall does not meet Tennessee standards.

TN Statute 50-1-305

Tennessee Equal Pay

Tennessee has not established specific laws protecting workers from wage discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. However, federal labor laws still apply, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This act prevents workers from sex discrimination in the workplace. In other words, two workers of different sexes cannot be paid different amounts of money if they have similar job duties with similar experience, qualifications, and performance. Employees can make formal complaints to the Department of Labor if their employer has violated these regulations.

Vacation Leave

Tennessee labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid leave for vacations or personal time off. An employer in Tennessee providing vacation leave benefits to employees must comply with the terms set out in the employment contract or vacation leave policy. 

A business has the legal right to establish policies or contracts that deny employees payment for accrued vacation leave at the end of the contract or employment. However, if the agreement requires, an employer must pay employees for accrued vacation time at the end of employment or the end of the contract. 

If the employment contract is silent on the matter, an employer is not obligated to pay for accumulated vacation leave at the end of the contract. An employer may also create a use-it or lose-it policy regarding accrued vacation leave.

More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.

Sick Leave

Most employers in Tennessee are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick time. If a business gives sick leave to employees, it must adhere to all the conditions established in the employment contract or sick leave policy. According to federal laws or the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers in Tennessee may have to provide unpaid sick leave.

More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.

Holiday Leave

Employees in Tennessee are not eligible for unpaid or paid holiday leave. Moreover, Tennessee employers can require employees to work on holidays. However, a private employer is not required to pay employees additional pay for working on holidays unless these hours also qualify for overtime, as federal overtime laws state. 

However, if an employer provides unpaid or paid holiday leave to employees, it must adhere to the terms set out in the employment contract or holiday leave policy. In addition, there are Tennessee state holidays that may apply to holiday leave laws.

More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.

Jury Duty Leave

Employers who hire more than five employees are required to provide paid time off for jury duty unless they are employed temporarily for a period of six months or less. More information about Tennessee jury duty laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.

Voting Leave

Tennessee law requires employers to provide up to three hours of paid time off to vote in elections unless the polls are open for at least three hours before or after their shift. More information about Tennessee voting laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.

Severance Pay

Tennessee labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. TN Dept. of Labor FAQs. It is up to employers whether or not they want to provide severance pay to their employees. However, if an employer chooses to provide severance, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract in the event that an employee is terminated.


Under certain circumstances, Tennessee residents may be eligible for unemployment while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits. See Tennessee State Unemployment for more information about unemployment in Tennessee.

Other Tennessee Labor Laws Topics and Resources

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

  • Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development enforces Tennessee’s Child Labor Act. Tennessee child labor laws cover topics including work during school hours and summer hours, school days and summer days, hour restrictions, and hazardous occupations.
  • The Tennessee Human Rights Commission enforces discrimination laws. Employees are also protected by federal discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner (EEOC). The state and federal discrimination laws offer employees protections and violations based on the following:
Disability (a mental or physical impairment)Sex, including sexual harassmentGender expressionNational Origin
Race (includes hair texture)Sexual orientationReligionAncestry
CreedGender identityAge (40+)Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions

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