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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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.
  • 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 with 5 or more employees are required to pay permanent employees for time spent on jury duty and are not allowed to punish the employee in any way. 
    • If an employee is scheduled for a night shift or during the hours before the time court is normally held, the employee must be excused from work for the shift immediately preceding the employee’s first day of jury duty. 
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays. 
  • Voting Leave:  Employers must give eligible employees (those who request the time off by 12 p.m. on the day prior to the vote and who do not have 3 hours of time to vote before or after their shift) up to 3 hours of paid time off to vote. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Final Paycheck

Employers must pay employees who are terminated or who have quit all final wages no later than the next regular payday, or 21 days after the date of discharge, whichever comes last. 

Minimum Wage

Tennessee does not have an established state minimum wage rate, so the federal rate of $7.25 applies. 

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
  • While minors 16 and 17 years of age do not have as many time restrictions as younger minors, they may not work later than 10 p.m. if they have school the next day. 

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • 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. 
  • Employers with more than 5 employees must provide a 30-minute meal break to employees scheduled to work more than 6 hours, unless the nature of the workplace environment provides ample opportunity to rest. 

Employment Discrimination

  • The Tennessee Human Rights Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, disability, color, religion, sex, age or national origin. The Tennessee Disability Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of physical, mental or visual disability.
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.       

Termination

Tennessee 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. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift scheduling in Tennessee. 

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