Tennessee Labor Laws: Minimum Wage, Overtime, Hours, and Leave


Tennessee Minimum Wage

The state of Tennessee has not established its own minimum wage rate. This means the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies in Tennessee to all non-exempt workers. There are exceptions, including exempt workers and service workers who receive tips. Tip workers may be paid a rate of $2.13 an hour for their services.

All employees and employers should familiarize themselves with minimum wage laws in the state where they operate to prevent maltreatment and discrimination. To learn more about Tennessee’s minimum wage laws, visit our Tennessee Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.


Tennessee Overtime

Tennessee labor laws do not have laws governing the payment of overtime. This means that federal overtime laws apply in the state of Tennessee. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees are required to be paid one and a half times their hourly wages for any hours worked over 40 per week. However, some workers are considered exempt, either from both overtime and minimum wage laws or just overtime. See FLSA: Overtime to learn more.


Tennessee Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Tennessee may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services.

See the Tennessee Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) to learn more about prevailing wages.


Tennessee Meals and Breaks

Tennessee labor laws require employers to provide a 30-minute rest period to employees who are scheduled to work six (6) consecutive hours, except in workplace environments where the nature of the business provides for ample opportunity to rest or take an appropriate break. TN Statute 50-2-103(h); TN Dept. of Labor FAQs.

Employers are not required by state law to provide any other breaks, including specific meal breaks. However, if an employer chooses to provide them, non-meal breaks, usually of the type lasting less than twenty (20) minutes, must be paid. See DOL: Breaks and Meal Periods to learn more.


Tennessee Nursing Mother Breaks

Tennessee labor laws protect mothers who are breastfeeding after childbirth. They require employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to employed mothers to express breast milk. However, this break time must only be provided if it can be done without disrupting regular operations. If possible, these breaks shall run concurrently with other breaks already provided by the employer to the employee to minimize disruptions.

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide employees who are nursing a room or other location in close proximity to the employees’ work areas. A toilet stall does not meet Tennessee standards.

TN Statute 50-1-305


Tennessee Equal Pay

Tennessee has not established specific laws protecting workers from wage discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. However, federal labor laws still apply, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This act prevents workers from sex discrimination in the workplace. In other words, two workers of different sexes cannot be paid different amounts of money if they have similar job duties with similar experience, qualifications, and performance. Employees can make formal complaints to the Department of Labor if their employer has violated these regulations.


Vacation Leave

Most employers in Tennessee are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation time. More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.


Sick Leave

Most employers in Tennessee are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick time. More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.


Holiday Leave

Most employers in Tennessee are not required to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave. More information about Tennessee labor laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.


Jury Duty Leave

Employers who hire more than five employees are required to provide paid time off for jury duty unless they are employed temporarily for a period of six months or less. More information about Tennessee jury duty laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.


Voting Leave

Tennessee law requires employers to provide up to three hours of paid time off to vote in elections unless the polls are open for at least three hours before or after their shift. More information about Tennessee voting laws may now be found on our Tennessee Leave Laws page.


Severance Pay

Tennessee labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. TN Dept. of Labor FAQs. It is up to employers whether or not they want to provide severance pay to their employees. However, if an employer chooses to provide severance, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract in the event that an employee is terminated.


Unemployment

Under certain circumstances, Tennessee residents may be eligible for unemployment while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits. See Tennessee State Unemployment for more information about unemployment in Tennessee.


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Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

THANK YOU FOR SUBSCRIBING!

We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.