The South Carolina Employment Law Guide

The state laws every business owner should know

Businesses must post all applicable state and federal labor law posters in the workplace.

South Carolina labor law posters to download

Federal labor law posters to download

Wages and Breaks

Minimum Wage
$7.25

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

Tipped Min Wage
$2.13

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

Overtime
1.5X

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.

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.

Meal breaks
None

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.

Rest breaks
None

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.

Final Paychecks

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.

Child Labor

Minors 14 and 15 years of age

Minors 14 and 15 years of age are subject to the following restrictions:

When school is in session, they may work 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. They may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They may not work during school hours.

When school is not in session, they may work a maximum of 8 hours a day, no more than 40 hours a week. They may work  between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day.

Minors 16 and 17 years of age

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.

Leave Requirements

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.

Family and 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.

Bereavement leave

Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Vacation time

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.

Holiday leave

Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.

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

Voting time

South Carolina does not require employers to provide leave for voting.

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.

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.

The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is applicable to all employers in the United States.

Hiring, firing, and more

Discrimination

Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: 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.

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.

Record Keeping

Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:

For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves. 

For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.

For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination. 

Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you: 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.

You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.

If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years. 

Additional laws that may apply to you

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.

Background checks

Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.

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.

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.

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.

Pregnancy Accommodation

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.

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.

Compliance Calendar

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 Remember

This 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. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros. 

Additional Resources

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