Wage and hour laws are federal and state laws that dictate what time worked employers can require of their workers as well as how the workers are paid for that time. It is vital that employers understand these laws and abide by their provisions in order to ensure they stay out of liability situations.
Minimum Wage in Tennessee
Tennessee does not have any laws dedicated to the minimum wage, so employers must follow federal guidelines. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for all non-exempt employees.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Since there are no minimum wage laws in the state, employers are required to follow the federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law dictates that tipped employees receive at least $2.13 per hour worked. In addition, they must earn at least $5.12 in tips to total the minimum wage of $7.25 or the employer must make up that difference. To be considered a tipped employee, workers must earn more than $30 per month in tips.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: The FLSA applies to most employers in Tennessee. However, employers of exempt workers may not be required to follow its provisions. Some exempt workers include farmworkers, executives and seasonal and recreational establishment employees. For additional information on exempt employees, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor.
When Are Raises Required: Tennessee does not currently have any laws about raises. Since there are also no federal guidelines on this matter, raises are generally considered an issue to be addressed between employers and their employees. Employment contracts are one way employers can formally set out their expectations and agreements on the matter.
Work Hours in Tennessee
Tennessee also lacks specific laws that outline the number of hours per day and per week that an employee can work. Since the issue is not addressed by federal laws, employers and their employees must work out their expectations on a case-by-case basis.
Paying Overtime: As with many other wage and hour issues, Tennessee does not currently have any laws outlining how overtime is to be addressed. This means that federal laws take over and govern the issue. The FLSA states that all non-exempt employees must be compensated at a rate equal to at least one and one-half the rate of their normal hourly pay for any time worked past a 40-hour workweek. This applies to any employees aged 16 and over. Some exemptions to the law include farmers, fishermen, airline employees and seamen.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development states that all employees who are scheduled for a shift equal to or more than six hours must receive a 30-minute rest or meal period. This law does not apply to workplace environments that naturally provide a great deal of time to rest and take appropriate breaks. Additionally, nursing mothers must be allowed sufficient unpaid break time to express milk within the first year following the birth of a child. Otherwise, these issues are subject to agreement between each employer and its employees.
Paid Time Off and Sick Pay: Tennessee does not currently have any laws that regulate fringe benefits such as paid time off and sick pay. Additionally, no federal laws are in place, so these issues are subject to any agreements employers and their employees may make in regards to the matter.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Like many other states, Tennessee does not dictate any requirements regarding employee notification prior to regular termination. There are also no federal laws governing the matter at this time. This means employers can terminate their employees with no notice in most situations.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Employees are granted certain protections during plant closures and mass layoffs by both state and federal laws. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers with more than 100 full-time employees to give at least 60 days’ notice to affected employees. Tennessee adopted a mini-WARN law that has the same notice requirements but applies to all employers that would not be covered under the federal law, so most employers are required to give the 60 days’ notice.
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