This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Tennessee.
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 Tennessee.
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.
Employers in Tennessee do not have to provide vacation time, paid or unpaid.
Employers in Tennessee are free to enforce a Use It or Lose It policy in their business, as this type of policy is not addressed in any state law.
PTO, vacation, sick time and holiday pay are considered as fringe benefits under Tennessee law, and are governed only by company policy.
Employers do not have to pay out unused PTO upon separation of employment, unless stated in their company policy or employment contracts.
No Tennessee law requires employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Tennessee 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 Tennessee:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)|
|3rd Monday in February||Presidents Day (3rd Monday in February)|
|2 days before Easter||Good Friday|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day (The Last Monday in May)|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labour Day (1st Monday in September)|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November)|
|Day after Thanksgiving||The Friday after Thanksgiving|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
Employers do not have to provide 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.
Full-time employees who have been employed by the same company for 12 consecutive months are entitled to four months of leave for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth and nursing an infant.
Employees are required to give at least three month’s advance notice of their anticipated date of departure, except in the case of a medical emergency.
Whether this leave is paid or unpaid is up to the employer’s discretion.
Employees who are not eligible for maternity leave under Tennessee law may be eligible under the FMLA, which allows employees across the nation the right to take 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for the birth of a new child, as well as a new adoption or placement of a foster child.
In addition, fathers also have the 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 in Tennessee.
Employers with five or more employees are required to provide paid leave for employees to serve jury duty, as long as the employee has been employed for more than six months.
If an employee is scheduled to work before or after the time of their jury duty, they must be given time off on the same day as their jury service, as long as that service exceeds three hours.
Employers must not penalize, discharge or threaten employees for serving jury duty.
Employers must provide up to three hours of paid time off to vote, unless they have at least three hours outside of working time in which to vote while polls are still open.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Tennessee, 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 Tennessee 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.