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Refresher on North Carolina - Specific Leave Laws

By Rosemary Gill Kenyon and Taylor Dewberry
06.28.2018

When must an employer grant leave to its employees in North Carolina?  As most employers are aware, many states and localities impose their own leave requirements in addition to federally required leave such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USSERA).  Most employers have leave or time off policies that may overlap or run concurrently with leaves that are mandated by federal or state law.  In North Carolina, there are specific leave requirements that employers should be aware of and ensure that their current written leave policies cover. North Carolina employers must provide the following leave for employees: 

Parental School Involvement (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-28.3) 

All employers in North Carolina must provide up to four hours of leave to parents (and guardians) of school-aged children for school-related activities. Parents, guardians and persons standing in loco parentis to a school-aged child may take advantage of this leave to be involved at their child’s school. 

Employers may require employees to provide at least 48 hours of advance written notice before taking this leave and can require written verification that the employee was involved at the school during the leave requested. 

Employers are not required to pay an employee for leave taken under this statute, although an employer may allow an employee to use any available paid-time-off. Employers who violate this statute may be held liable for civil damages.  

Parental Compliance with Juvenile Courts Orders (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 7B-2705) 

All employers in North Carolina must provide an employee whose child is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts leave to comply with a court order requiring the parent to attend a court appearance, a parental responsibility class, or the child’s medical, surgical, psychiatric, or psychological evaluation or treatment. 

Employers are not required to pay an employee for leave taken under this statute, although an employer may allow an employee to use any available paid-time-off.  

Jury Duty (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 9-32)

All employers in North Carolina must provide leave to employees for jury duty in either state or federal court. Employees who have been called for jury duty or are serving as grand jurors or petit jurors may take leave for the length of the employee’s jury service. 

In addition, federal law (28 U.S.C. § 1875) protects an employee’s right to take leave to comply with obligations to serve on a federal jury. In essence, North Carolina provides broader protections for employees for all jury duty. Neither statute requires employers to pay an employee for jury duty. 

Employees are not required to give advance notice of jury service, although an employer may allow an employee to use any available paid-time-off. Employers who violate this statute may be held liable for civil damages.  

Domestic Violence Leave (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 50B-5.5) 

All employers in North Carolina must provide leave to an employee for “a reasonable period of time” to obtain a protective order or other relief from domestic violence. The statute does not define what is reasonable, and this will depend on the facts of each situation. 

Unless the leave is taken for an emergency (which will likely be the case in most situations), employees may have to comply with regular company leave policies. 

Employers are not required to pay an employee for leave taken under this statute, although an employer may allow an employee to use any available paid-time-off.  Employers who violate this statute may be held liable for civil damages.  

Vacation Policy Leave (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-25.12)

There is no requirement under North Carolina law that an employer provide any paid vacation or time-off.  However, there are requirements that apply to an employer who offers any sort of paid vacation or paid-time-off. Under regulations issued by the N. C. Department of Labor, employers that offer paid vacation leave must provide written notification of vacation leave describing: 1) how and when vacation is earned; 2) how much vacation time may be carried forward from one year to another; 3) when vacation must be taken; 4) when and if vacation pay may be paid in lieu of time off; and 5) under what conditions vacation pay will be forfeited.  An employer must comply with its written vacation or paid time off policy. 

An employer may impose advance notice requirements on its employees, with which employees must comply.

Military Leave (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 127A-201 to 127A-203, 127B-14, and 127B-15)

North Carolina’s military leave law applies to all North Carolina employers. Employees who are members of the North Carolina National Guard, a National Guard of another state, or in the US Military are eligible for this leave. This statute allows employees to take leave for active or emergency military duty. This statute does not specify how much leave may be taken, but the amount of leave is likely determined by the length of the employee’s military service. 

Unless the leave is emergency leave, an employer may require the employee comply with company notice requirements. Upon return employees must submit a written request for restatement. 

If active duty lasts 30 days or more, an employee must request reinstatement within 14 days of release from active duty. 

If active duty lasts 30 days or less, an employee must request reinstatement no later than the first regularly scheduled work period after the employee has returned home from active duty. 

If the employee is recovering from an illness or injury, the employee must request reinstatement within the period of recovery. 

In addition to potential civil liability, an employer who violates military leave laws could face criminal charges. 

North Carolina military leave law does not significantly differ from the federal military leave law, USERRA. North Carolina military leave extends protections to employees who are in the National Guard under authority of state law. Neither statute requires employers to offer paid military leave.  

In addition to North Carolina, many other states (and localities) have specific leave requirements. In drafting handbooks or leave policies, employers should be sure to comply with all applicable laws, including federal law and the applicable laws of any state or locality in which its employees are located.  

If you have any questions about whether your company’s leave policy is compliant with North Carolina leave laws, please contact the Smith Anderson lawyer with whom you normally work.

Media Information

Jamie Greene
jgreene@smithlaw.com
T: 919.838.2045

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