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North Carolina Minimum Wage Law

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

North Carolina’s minimum wage is $6.15 per hour, compared to the current federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour.

However, barring action by the state legislature, the federal minimum wage will overtake North Carolina’s minimum wage next year. Effective July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage increases to $6.55 per hour; in 2009, it rises to $7.25 per hour.

Training wage: North Carolina employers can pay full-time students, learners and apprentices, as defined under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 90% of the minimum wage. In addition, you may pay workers as little as 85% of the minimum wage in any of these situations:

  • They’ve been unemployed for at least 15 weeks and are economically disadvantaged.
  • They or their families are receiving Work First Family Assistance or Supplemental Security Income benefits under Social Security.
  • They’re employed in a seasonal amusement or food business.

Tipped employees: If your employees receive tips, you may pay them $2.13 per hour. But you must ensure that their pay and tips combined equal the minimum wage. Under state law, employers may pool tips, but no employee may lose more than 15% of his or her tips because of pooling.

Some workers are exempt from the North Carolina minimum wage:

  • Seafood workers.
  • An employer’s dependents working for the employer.
  • Executive or administrative personnel and outside salespersons.
  • Certain drivers, drivers’ helpers, loaders and mechanics.
  • Employees of seasonal and recreational establishments.
  • Computer professionals (who must earn $27.63 per hour).
  • Emergency workers employed by nonprofits.
  • Farmworkers.
  • Members of religious organizations.
  • Motor carriers, as defined by U.S. Transportation Department regulations.

Overtime: North Carolina employers must pay overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a week. Exception: Seasonal amusement and food businesses needn’t pay overtime until an employee has worked more than 45 hours in a week.

Record-keeping: North Carolina requires employers to maintain a record of the name, address, occupation, pay rate, hours worked each day and each amount paid to the employee for three years. Also, payroll records must specifically note which employees are paid the training wage.

For more information on the minimum wage law, visit the state’s Wage and Hour Bureau site:

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