It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important South Carolina statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few South Carolina labor laws every small business owner should know.

Resources

First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:

Leave

  • Sick Days: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
  • Medical Leave: Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
  • Bone Marrow Donor Act: Employers may provide paid leave to their employees to donate bone marrow.
    • The employer may require verification by a physician of the purpose and length of leave.
  • Vacation Leave: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
    • Employers may establish a policy that denies payment for accrued vacation time upon separation from employment.
    • Employers may also cap the amount of vacation time that can be accrued, and can implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy that requires employees to use their leave by a certain date.
  • Jury Duty: Employers are not required to pay employees for time spent responding to a jury summons but are not allowed to punish the employee in any way
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays. 
  • Voting Leave: No statute. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.
  • Witness Leave: Employers cannot discharge or demote an employee for complying with a subpoena.
  • Military Leave: Employers must allow their employees who are members of the National Guard to take military leave.
    • After their service, the employee is entitled to return to their job or a job with similar seniority, status, and pay.

Final Paycheck

  • Employees who are terminated or laid off must be paid all final wages within 48 hours of their discharge.
  • There is no statute regarding when an employee who resigns must be paid. 

Minimum Wage

There is no state minimum wage rate in South Carolina, so the federal rate of $7.25 applies. 

Pay Practices

  • Employers in South Carolina may choose the frequency and timing of paying their employees.
  • Employers that have five or more employees must inform employees in writing of the following:
    • Their normal working hours
    • Their wages
    • The time and place of payment
    • Any deductions

Employers must give employees at least seven days’ notice in writing before changing any of the above.

Tipped Wages

There is no state tipped minimum wage rate either, so the federal rate of $2.13 applies. 

Child Labor

  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age are subject to the following restrictions:
    • When school is in session:
      • A maximum of 3 hours a day on school days
      • A maximum of 8 hours a day on non-school days
      • A maximum of 18 hours a week during school weeks
      • Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      • No working during school hours 
    • When school is not in session
      • A maximum of 8 hours a day 
      • No more than 40 hours a week 
      • Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day
  • Minors 16 and 17 years old do not have time restrictions, but may not work in hazardous jobs such as manufacturing, construction, and similar fields. 

Required Posters

The State of South Carolina requires that employers post the following notices in a prominent location:

  • LLR Workplace Poster
  • Workers Pay No Part of the Cost for Job Insurance (UCI 104)
  • If You Become Unemployed (UCI 105)
  • Workers Comp Works for You
  • Equal Opportunity Is the Law

Hiring

  • Background Checks: Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.
  • Credit and Investigative Checks: South Carolina does not expressly allow or prohibit employers from obtaining credit reports on applicants or employees.
  • Arrest and Conviction Checks: South Carolina does not expressly allow or prohibit employers from obtaining criminal history checks for employment purposes.
  • Mandatory Background Checks: South Carolina requires that employers conduct background checks on the following types of employees or applicants:
    • Charter school personnel
    • Personnel working for a childcare center, a group or family childcare home, or a church or religious childcare center
    • Private investigators
    • Security officers
    • Firefighters, including volunteers
    • Direct caregivers
    • Personnel, including volunteers, who receive an education award or a grant-funded living allowance, stipend, or salary supported, sponsored, or administered by the South Carolina Commission on National and Community Service
    • Drivers for a transportation network company

Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Employers in South Carolina may test their applicants and employees for drugs or alcohol.
  • Employers that receive $50,000.00 or more in state contracts or grants must meet specific criteria to certify that they have a drug-free workplace. The Workers’ Compensation Commission has a program that enables employers to obtain a discount on their workers’ compensation premiums.

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.
    • Federal law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees an overtime rate of 1 ½  their regular rate for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of 40. 
  • Federal law does not require employers to provide meal periods or breaks, but if they choose to do so, breaks lasting less than 20 minutes must be paid. 

Employment Discrimination

  • Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on the following:
    • Race
    • Color
    • Age
    • Sex
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender
    • Gender identity
    • Religion
    • National origin
    • Pregnancy
    • Genetic information, including family medical history
    • Physical or mental disability
    • Child or spousal support withholding
    • Military or veteran status
    • Citizenship and/or immigration status
  • Additionally, the state of South Carolina prohibits discrimination based on the following:
    • Pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, or related medical condition
    • Use of tobacco products outside the workplace
    • Wage garnishment for consumer debt
  • Employers may not discriminate against an employee or applicant because they are members of the National Guard of South Carolina. They may not try to convince employees or applicants not to enlist.
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.
  • The South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodation Act requires that certain accommodations be made for employees with medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, even if the employee’s condition does not rise to the level of a disability. This makes the law more expansive than the federal FMLA and ADA.
    • The law suggests that the following would be reasonable accommodations for such employees:
      • Providing more frequent or longer break periods
      • Providing more frequent bathroom breaks
      • Modifying food or drink policy
      • Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires the employee to stand
      • Providing assistance with manual labor
      • Observing limits on lifting (e.g., no more than 20 pounds);
      • Temporarily transferring the employee to a less strenuous or hazardous vacant position, if qualified
      • Providing job restructuring or light duty, if available
      • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices necessary for performing essential job functions
      • Modifying work schedules   

Termination

South Carolina is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Whistleblower Protection

Employers that receive public funds may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for reporting alleged waste or wrongdoing by a public body or public employee.

COBRA

  • COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.”
  • South Carolina’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to six additional months. Each individual certification of coverage must contain a notice of the right to continue coverage.
    • When terminating an employee, employers must clearly and meaningfully inform the employee of their COBRA rights and that they have to pay the premiums before the beginning of each policy month.

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift scheduling in South Carolina.

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