This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of North Carolina.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in North Carolina.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No federal or state laws require North Carolina employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time.
Use It or Lose It policies are allowed in North Carolina, but employers must have a written clause in company policy and/or contracts that clearly state this.
If the Use It or Lose It policy is not mentioned, or the clause is ambiguous, all earned PTO benefits must be provided to employees.
Once earned, benefits such as PTO must be paid out to employees, unless their contract or company policy has a clear forfeiture clause that states when earned PTO will not be paid out or will be forfeited.
North Carolina leave laws do not mandate sick leave (paid or unpaid).
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in North Carolina must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following official state holidays are observed in North Carolina:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
|Friday before Easter||Good Friday|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labour Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving Day|
|Day after Thanksgiving||The Friday after Thanksgiving Day|
There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays, and employees required to work on state holidays are not legally entitled to extra compensation (such as higher pay or a compensatory day off), unless promised in their employment contract.
Maternity leave is not required by law in North Carolina state law (paid or unpaid).
The FMLA does apply, however, entitling new mothers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, as well as the placement of a new adoption or foster.
Paternity leave is not covered by law either, but fathers have the same right to unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks for the birth of their child, or a new adoption or fostered child.
There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave (paid or unpaid) in North Carolina.
Paid jury duty leave is not required, but employees must be allowed unpaid time off to serve jury duty, without being discharged, penalized or threatened for doing so.
There is no law mandating voting leave in North Carolina.
Parents and guardians are entitled to up to four hours of unpaid leave to attend their child’s school activities.
Employees are entitled to unpaid time off to obtain or attempt to obtain a protection order from domestic violence for the employee or their child.
Members of the North Carolina National Guard, or any other state’s National Guard, are entitled to unpaid leave when activated by the state governor, along with reinstatement rights when they return from active duty.
Employees must apply in writing to return to work, within five days of their return from active duty (for active duty of less than 30 days), and within 14 days for active duty of over 30 days.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in North Carolina, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in North Carolina state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.