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North Carolina Wage and Hour Laws

No matter how much you love your job, your main motivation is to provide for yourself and your loved ones. That's why we have laws in place to protect workers against unscrupulous employers at both the federal and state level. Laws addressing overtime, minimum wage, meal breaks, and related employment matters are referred to as "wage and hour laws." North Carolina law primarily relies on federal laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the federal minimum wage.

North Carolina Wage and Hour Laws at a Glance

A combination of federal, state, and sometimes local laws governs the payment of wages and regulation of work hours. It's not easy navigating these laws, let alone reading them in the state code. We've simplified North Carolina's main wage and hour laws for your convenience below.


North Carolina General Statutes, Section 95-25.1, et seq.

Minimum Wage

$7.25 per hour ($2.13 per hour for tipped employees, as long as wages and tips add up to the hourly minimum wage). This is in line with the federal minimum wage.


Employers must pay nonexempt employees (which includes agricultural employees) 1 and 1/2 times the regular rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 per week (following federal law). Professions exempt from overtime requirements include:

  • Newspaper delivery workers;
  • Babysitters and other personal caretakers;
  • Part-time police officers and firefighters;
  • Executives;
  • Computer employees;
  • Administrative employees; and
  • Certain professional employees.
Meals and Breaks

Employees who are 14 or 15 years old must be provided with a 30-minute (unpaid) break for every 5-hours scheduled.

Employees 16 years and older aren't entitled to a rest break or meal period. But any breaks that are offered by the employer must be paid, unless they're meal breaks (in which case the employee must not have any work duties during this period), in accordance with federal law.


North Carolina doesn't have state laws addressing leave, aside from a law protecting employees from being discharged or demoted for complying with a jury summons.

Employees who've worked for a covered employer (those with at least 50 employees) for at least 12 months are entitled to FMLA protections. Generally, covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

  • Serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing their job duties;
  • The need to take care of an immediate family member suffering from a serious health condition;
  • The birth or adoption of a child; and
  • The care of a newborn or newly adopted child.
Severance Pay Not required

North Carolina Department of Labor

How to File a Wage Complaint (NC DOL)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • North Carolina Law - Information about North Carolina statutes, including those pertaining to criminal, family, employment, and injury law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

North Carolina Wage and Hour Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Help With Your North Carolina Wage and Hour Complaint

You work hard for your money; so you want to make sure you're paid every penny owed for every hour worked. If you've been denied overtime or are simply not getting paid what you're owed, you have legal options. Don't despair; learn about your rights and contact a North Carolina employment law attorney near you today.

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