Tennessee Labor Laws Guide

Ultimate Tennessee labor law guide: minimum wage, overtime, break, leave, hiring, termination, and miscellaneous labor laws.

Tennessee Labor Laws FAQ
Tennessee minimum wage $7.25
Tennessee overtime 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($10.87 for minimum wage workers)
Tennessee breaks 30-minute meal or rest break after every 6 consecutive hours of work
Tennessee Labor Laws Guide

Table of contents

Tennessee wage laws

In the state of Tennessee, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates wages concerning:

Regular minimum wage Tipped minimum wage Subminimum wage
$7.25 $2.13 $7.25 (with some exceptions)

Tennessee minimum wage

No state law establishes the minimum wage for Tennessee workers.

Therefore, employers are subject to federal regulations and must pay the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Exceptions to the minimum wage in Tennessee

Not all workers are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Certain employees are referred to as exempt employees — meaning they are usually paid on a salaried basis and don’t qualify for minimum wage or overtime.

Employees that are exempt from the minimum wage in the state of Tennessee under the FLSA include the following:

FLSA minimum wage exemptions

Tipped minimum wage in Tennessee

Given the fact that the term “tipped employee” is not clearly defined in Tennessee labor laws, the minimum wage for employees who receive gratuities and tips is, again, the federal minimum of $2.13 per hour.

However, an employee’s total earnings per hour must equal at least the federal minimum of $7.25.

If not, an employer must make up the difference.

Tennessee subminimum wage

As of July 1, 2022, employees impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency must be paid no less than the federal minimum wage.

Meanwhile, employees under 20 years of age are entitled to $4.25 per hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment.

Such a wage is called the training wage. After 90 days of training, employees are entitled to at least the federal minimum.

Full-time students working in retail, agriculture, colleges, or universities may be paid not less than 85% of the minimum wage under federal law.

Finally, high school students at least 16 years old, who attend vocational schools, are entitled to 75% of the minimum wage.

Tennessee payment laws

Tennessee employers must pay their employees all wages earned at least once a month.

Employers who pay their employees once a month must make payments not later than the fifth day of the following month.

However, employers may pay their employees in two or more periods per month — but must comply with the following provisions:

Still, such payday regulations only apply to private employment.

Track employee payroll with Clockify

Tennessee overtime laws

Unless exempt, every employee working more than 40 hours a week in the USA is entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The same applies to Tennessee non-exempt employees. Accordingly, non-exempt employees in Tennessee qualify for overtime pay at a rate of one and a half (1.5) times the regular rate for each hour worked over 40 hours per week.

Track Tennessee overtime with Clockify

Overtime exceptions and exemptions in Tennessee

Meanwhile, some employees don’t qualify for overtime pay.

Such employees are called exempt employees, and they usually receive a fixed amount of pay — i.e. a salary. The minimum salary requirement is $684 per week for an employee to have an overtime-exempt status.

Employees who are exempt from overtime pay under federal law include:

FLSA overtime pay exemptions

Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW) in Tennessee

Even though employees who receive a fixed salary are not subject to overtime pay — there is an exemption to this rule.

Thanks to the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW), such employees are entitled to overtime pay of one-half (0.5) times the regular hourly rate.

Including the fixed salary requirement, the following are conditions that must be met for the FWW to apply:

Here is how the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW) looks in practice:

An employee’s weekly income is, for instance, $950.

In the preceding week, the employee worked 48 hours.

To be able to calculate overtime hours, calculate the hourly rate first.

Simply divide the weekly salary by the number of hours worked for that week.

$950 / 48 = $20 per hour

Next, multiply the hourly rate by 0.5 for every overtime hour during a week.

$20 per hour x 0.5 = $10 for each overtime hour worked

Total overtime compensation goes as follows:

$10 x 8 overtime hours = $80

Fluctuating Workweek Calculator Fluctuating Workweek Calculator

Tennessee break laws

Tennessee employees are granted a 30-minute meal or rest break without pay after every 6 consecutive hours of work.

Still, Tennessee law makes a distinction between employees in terms of granting breaks.

That being said, businesses that by nature allow employees to take more breaks than usual (i.e., provide “ample opportunity to rest”) are not obliged to offer meal or rest breaks to their employees. Such businesses include food or beverage businesses, security guards, etc.

Nevertheless, employers are advised to offer breaks to their employees anyhow, to maintain productivity in an office environment.

Track employee breaks using kiosk terminals for clocking in and out

Tennessee breastfeeding laws in the workplace

As for breastfeeding in the workplace, state employers must provide reasonable break time without pay to an employee to express milk. Still, a breastfeeding employee does not get a separate break to express milk in the workplace, but must use an already provided rest or meal break (such as a 30-minute meal break) to do that.

What’s more, a breastfeeding mother must be given a private, separate room (that cannot be a bathroom) or other location close to the workplace where the employee may express milk.

Tennessee leave requirements

There are certain leave benefits that Tennessee employers are obliged to secure for their employees.

But, by law, Tennessee employers are not obliged to provide some other leaves of absence.

That’s why, we’ve divided types of leave days into two categories:

Free leaves of absence attendance tracker

Tennessee required leave

The following are leave benefits that Tennessee employers are required to assign to their employees by law:

Annual leave (public employers)

Eligible employees may accrue and use annual leave for whatever reason they wish.

In Tennessee, employees scheduled to work 1,600 hours or more in a year are entitled to paid leave of absence based on such an employee’s accrued annual leave.

Eligible employees may earn annual leave based on years of service as follows:

Years of service Annual leave earned per month Maximum allowable days per year
0 up to 5 1 day 30 days
5 up to 10 1 and ½ days 36 days
10 up to 20 1 and ¾ days 39 days
20 or more 2 days 42 days

Who qualifies for annual leave?

Eligible employees include:

Sick leave (public employers)

Full-time employees may accrue 1 sick leave day per month — provided that such an employee works at least 37.5 hours a week (or 7.5 hours a day).

Eligible employees may use sick leave in the following circumstances:

Maternity leave

Employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months may be granted up to 4 months of leave — paid or unpaid — in the following cases:

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employers must grant eligible employees unpaid time off for specified medical or family reasons such as:

To qualify for FMLA, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months (1,250 hours) in the previous 12-month period.

Who is eligible for FMLA?

Holiday leave (public employers)

The state of Tennessee recognizes the following holidays as paid days off:

* Columbus Day shall be substituted for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

If a holiday falls on Saturday — the preceding Friday will be a day off.

If a holiday falls on Sunday — the following Monday will be a day off.

Yet, only state offices remain closed during said holidays.

Jury duty leave (public employers)

Jury duty is a civic obligation of each US citizen to serve as a juror on a criminal or civil trial.

In Tennessee, employees who receive a summons from a court are entitled to time off from work — but only if jury duty exceeds 3 hours.

What’s more, employees receive the usual compensation for the period of absence due to jury duty service. But, an employer is likewise allowed to deduct the fees or compensation that the employee receives for such service.

Finally, employers with less than 5 employees are not supposed to compensate the juror for the jury service.

Voting leave

Each person who has the right to vote must be granted “a reasonable period of time”, with pay, not exceeding 3 hours, for the purpose of voting.

Still, if an employee’s work shift begins 3 or more hours after the opening of the polls or ends 3 or more hours before the closing of the polls, then such employee is not eligible for a voting leave of absence.

For instance, if an employee’s work shift begins at 10 a.m., and the polls are open from 7 a.m.

— in such a case, the employee may not take paid time off to vote.

Bereavement leave (public employers)

Such leave is taken in case an immediate family member has passed away.

In Tennessee, employees are entitled to 3 paid days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an employee’s immediate family member.

However, an employee must have accrued sick leave days to be able to earn a bereavement leave of absence.

Apart from getting 3 days of bereavement leave, an eligible employee may use additional 2 days of sick leave in the event of a death in a family.

Educational leave (public employers)

Any full-time, regular employee may receive a paid leave of absence for the purpose of gaining education or training related to the needs of the agency.

Eligible employees may receive 75% of their regular salary during the period of education or training.

Military leave (public employers)

Members of the Armed Forces and Tennessee National Guard may be granted a paid military leave of 20 workdays per year to engage in the performance of:

In addition, members of the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol are also eligible for paid leave of absence of up to 15 workdays to aid in civil air patrol, emergency, or disaster situations.

Finally, veterans may be granted up to 4 hours to participate in a military funeral service.

Special leave without pay (public employers)

Employees may ask for a special leave of absence of more than 1 month in the following cases:

Compensatory time (public employers)

Exempt, non-executive level employees and non-exempt employees who don’t receive overtime in cash may accrue paid time off for hours worked over 37.5 per week.

Compensatory time is calculated based on the employee's average rate over the last 3 years of employment or the employee’s hourly rate.

The accrual is limited, though. Eligible employees may accrue up to 480 hours of compensatory time.

Employees may use compensatory leave for any reason.

Administrative leave (public employers)

Administrative leave is paid leave that can be granted to an employee to participate in a state-administered assessment or at a State of Tennessee job interview.

What’s more, administrative leave may be given to employees donating platelets through the Pheresis Program.

Tennessee non-required leave

The following are leaves of absence that Tennessee employers (mostly private) are not obliged to offer to their employees:

Child labor laws in Tenneesse

In the state of Tennessee, employees under the age of 18 are subject to child labor laws.

In the following sections, we’ll be discussing child labor provisions regarding:

Work time restrictions for Tennessee minors

Unlike in some other states, in Tennessee, there are work hour limitations when it comes to employing minors 16 and 17 years of age. There are also time restrictions for minors aged 14 and 15.

Time restrictions for minors aged 16 and 17:

* Unless they have parental or guardian permission, and in that case, minors may work until midnight but not more than 3 nights.

Time restrictions for minors aged 14 and 15

Breaks for Tennessee minors

All employees under 18 years of age must have a 30-minute break without pay for every 6 hours of consecutive work.

Prohibited occupations for Tennessee minors

Tennessee employers who wish to employ minors under 18 years of age must ensure a safe and healthy working environment free of any physical, moral, or emotional hazard.

Prohibited occupations for minors under the age of 18 in Tennessee:

Extensive list of prohibited jobs for Tennessee minors

Recordkeeping requirements for Tennessee minors

Under Tennessee law, employers that hire minors must keep a separate record for each minor that must include:

Moreover, such employers must post a printed notice of the child labor provisions in a conspicuous place on the premises where minors are employed.

Tennessee hiring laws

Under Tennessee law, all individuals are protected from employment discrimination and must be given equal employment oppurtunities.

Therefore, employers must not discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of their:

*Limited to employees who are at least 40 years old.

**Unless such disability prevents or impairs the performance of work. Blind persons with guide dogs are also protected under this act.

Yet, it is not considered discriminatory practice when giving preferences in hiring to:

The said provisions with regards to giving veteran’s preference only apply to private employment.

Right-to-work law in Tennessee

Under a right-to-work law, no employee can be required or forced to join or not join a labor union as a condition of employment.

Tennessee adopted such a law in 1947.

The right-to-work law in Tennessee makes it unlawful for an employer or organization to:

If an employer or organization of any kind violates any of the said provisions, they will be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor.

Tennessee termination laws

In the US, all states (except Montana) recognize the at-will doctrine.

At-will means that an employer is legally allowed to end an employment contract with an employee at any time and for any reason or no reason at all.

An employee may likewise quit their job at any time and for any reason.

However, no employer is allowed to terminate an employee due to their race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability.

Such a termination is called wrongful termination.

Still, under Tennessee law, there are certain exceptions to the at-will doctrine.

Employees in Tennessee cannot be discharged for:

Tennessee final paycheck

Employees who either voluntarily resign from a job or are discharged by the employer must be paid all wages earned no later than the next regularly scheduled payday or 21 days after the end of employment — whichever is later.

Health insurance continuation in Tennessee

Upon termination of employment, employees and their dependents may elect to continue their health insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law.

Eligible employees are those who are already participating in the state’s group health, dental, or vision program.

Under COBRA, employees may extend their health insurance for up to 36 months.

Employees must be aware of the fact that COBRA coverage doesn’t become effective until the employee or dependent makes a written notice within 60 days of the date of employment termination.

Occupational safety in Tennessee

With regards to safe and healthful conditions in the workplace, Tennessee has a state-plan regulatory program called Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA).

Just like the federal OSHA, the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) sets and enforces standards regarding workers’ safety and health. Furthermore, it provides training, education, and consultations to reduce work-related injuries or fatalities.

Who is covered by TOSHA?

TOSHA applies to private-sector workplaces with several exceptions, as well as state and local government employers and employees (except for federal government employers including United States Postal Service — USPS).

Learn more about TOSHA

Miscellaneous Tennessee labor laws

In this section of the guide, we’ll cover some of the miscellaneous labor laws concerning Tennessee — including:

Tennessee whistleblower laws

Whistleblower laws protect and encourage individuals to report a violation of a law or rule to the proper authorities without being retaliated against.

In Tennessee, any employee — whether private or public — is encouraged to speak out and report illegal activity regarding the criminal or civil code of Tennessee or the US.

Therefore, no employee can be discharged for refusing to participate in or speaking out about illegal activity.

Moreover, under TOSHA, an employer cannot take any adverse action against an employee who files a complaint or testifies concerning a violation of occupational safety and health in the workplace.

Any employee who has suffered retaliatory discharge or any other damages will have the right to claim against an employer for causing harm and even recover any attorney fees and costs.

Tennessee recordkeeping laws

In light of state recordkeeping laws deficiency, federal provisions apply instead.

Having that in mind, under FLSA, all employers must keep the following records of each non-exempt employee for at least 3 years:

Even though employers may use any timekeeping method under FLSA, to better manage employee time tracking and get rid of manual or paper timesheets, employers may consider using a time tracker and timesheet app.


We hope this Tennessee labor law guide has been helpful. We advise you to make sure you’ve paid attention to the links we’ve provided, as most of them will lead you to the official government websites and other relevant information.

Please note that this guide was written in Q3 2022, so any changes in the labor laws that were included later than that may not be included in this Tennessee labor laws guide.

We strongly advise you to consult with the appropriate institutions and/or certified representatives before acting on any legal matters.

Clockify is not responsible for any losses or risks incurred, should this guide be used without further guidance from legal or tax advisors.

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