Normal Working Hours
Tennessee does not have a minimum wage or overtime laws and, thus, has not adopted a definition of hours worked for purposes of compensation calculations. Because most employers and employees in Tennessee are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the standards for hours worked set forth in that law typically apply.
The Fair Labor Standards Act defines the workweek as a fixed and recurring period of 168 hours comprised of seven consecutive 24-hour periods that do not need to coincide with the calendar week. It is adjustable only if the change is designed to be permanent. Each week is considered on its own for purposes of calculating overtime. The hours of two or more weeks may not be averaged.
Tennessee has no general provision governing overtime pay, but most nonexempt employees would be subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that all work in excess of 40 hours per week be paid at a rate of one-and-one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Each employee must have a 30-minute unpaid rest break, if scheduled to work 6 hours consecutively, except in workplace environments that by the nature of business provide for ample opportunity to rest or take an appropriate break. Such break shall not be scheduled during or before the first hour of scheduled work activity.
Employees may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected, leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Please refer to main United States
page for further details on this Federal law.
Employers with 100 or more full-time, permanent employees must provide eligible employees with maternity leave. Eligible employees may take up to 4 months of leave for:
- Adoption; or
- Pregnancy; or
- Childbirth; or
- Nursing an infant.
To be eligible for maternity leave under the Tennessee law, an employee must have been employed full-time for at least 12 consecutive months. An eligible employee must give at least three months’ advance notice of his or her anticipated date of departure, length of leave and intention to return to full-time employment after leave unless notice is not possible. Leave may be paid or unpaid, at the discretion of the employer. Job protections apply to employees taking maternity leave. Covered employers must include the maternity leave requirements in all employee handbooks.
An employee who works for an employer with 100 or more employees, and who has been employed for at least 12 consecutive months as a full-time employee, may be absent from employment for a period not to exceed four months for the purpose of adoption, pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing of an infant, where applicable.
An employee who gives at least three months’ advance notice of his or her anticipated date of departure, the length of leave, and his or her intention to return to full-time employment after leave, will be restored to the previous or similar position with the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority. An employee who does not give three months’ advance notice because of a medical emergency that necessitates that the leave begins earlier than originally anticipated, or because his or her notice of adoption was received less than three months in advance, does not forfeit the right to parental leave. The FMLA does not supersede the Tennessee law, since the Tennessee law provides greater benefits. Therefore, if you have 100 or more employees, and an employee gives at least three months’ advance notice, you must allow the employee to take leave up to a total of four months (which can include the 12 workweeks of FMLA leave) for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth and nursing an infant.
Volunteer Firefighter Leave
In accordance with T.C.A. § 50-1-309, a regular employee who is an active volunteer firefighter may be permitted to leave work in order to respond to fire calls during such employee’s regular hours of employment without loss of pay, vacation time, sick leave, or earned overtime accumulation. Such employee may be permitted to take off the next scheduled work period within twelve (12) hours following such a response as annual leave or sick leave day without loss of pay if the employee assisted in fighting such fire for more than four (4) hours.
If the employee is not entitled to annual leave or sick leave day then such an employee may be permitted to take off such a work period without pay. In addition, any employee who is an active volunteer firefighter and who worked for more than four (4) hours the prior day or night as a volunteer firefighter in an emergency may be permitted to take off the next scheduled work period within twelve (12) hours following such emergency as annual leave or sick leave day without the loss of pay. If the employee is not entitled to annual leave or sick leave day then such an employee may be permitted to take off such a work period without pay. The employer may require the employee to submit a written statement from the chief of the volunteer fire department verifying that such an employee responded to a fire or was on-call and specifying the date, time, and duration of such response.
Volunteer Rescue Squad Leave
Employers must allow employees to be late for or absent from work if they are volunteer rescue squad members who responded to an emergency that occurred outside of the employee’s normal work hours. Certification requirements apply. Leave is unpaid.
Jury Duty Leave
Employers shall excuse the absence of an employee summoned to jury duty. For the absence to be excused, the employee must exhibit the summons to the employer the day after it is received. For such excused absences, employers with five or more employees must pay the summoned employee his/her “usual compensation” minus the jury service fee for such time spent serving on jury duty. The employee need not return to work on the day or days in which the employee’s responsibility for jury duty exceeds three hours. The employer is not required to compensate an employee for more time than was actually spent serving and traveling to and from jury duty. Employees who work the night shift should be excused from working the shift preceding their first day of jury duty, as well as shifts occurring within 24 hours after a day of jury service lasting more than three hours.
Employers must grant unpaid leave to employees who are members of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard on active state duty and Tennessee State Guard, including any military service performed during emergencies. Employers can’t discriminate against applicants or employees because they are National Guard members.
Employees may be absent from work for a reasonable amount of time, up to 3 hours, to vote, unless the polls are open for at least three consecutive hours outside of the employee’s work hours. Employees must request leave to vote before noon on the day before the election. Leave is paid if it occurs during the employee’s normal working hours. Employers must provide unpaid leave for employees who are serving as part-time voting machine technicians.