Wages, Benefits, Paychecks and Breaks
What is the law concerning payment of final paychecks to employees?
Tennessee employees who are laid off, fired, or who quit must be paid their wages in full at the next regular payday, not to exceed 21 days from the date of their discharge or termination. Claims against an employer for late payment may be filed with the Labor Standards Division. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has the authority to enforce this law.
Isn't my employer required to provide breaks and a meal period?
State law requires that each employee scheduled to work six (6) consecutive hours must have a thirty (30) minute meal or rest period, except in workplace environments that by their nature of business provides for ample opportunity to rest or take an appropriate break. The failure to give a (30) minute meal or rest period is a violation of State law only. There are no State or Federal requirements for additional breaks. The Federal Law does require breaks of less than 30 minutes in duration to be paid if the employer chooses to grant such breaks.
How often must my employer pay me?
All wages or compensation of employees in private employment is due and payable at least semi-monthly and notice of regular paydays must be posted by each employer in at least two conspicuous places.
My employer has just told me he is going to cut my pay. Can he do this without my approval?
An employee's pay can be cut with or without his approval as long as the employer tells the employee BEFORE any work is done. The employee cannot work without first knowing the amount of wages to be paid.
Under Tennessee Wage Regulation Act an employer is prohibited from penalizing an employee or deducting any sum of money as a penalty or fine from the employee's wages.
Tennessee Wage Regulation Act requires employers of private employments of 5 or more employees to establish and maintain regular pay periods at least twice monthly. Penalties may be accessed for violation of this section against those employers for missing a regularly scheduled payroll date and in paying their employees late.
Can my employer hold my paycheck until I return my uniform, etc.?
No. An employer cannot hold your paycheck for any reason.
Can my employer withhold the cost of my uniform, equipment, company loans, shortages and negligence, etc. from my paycheck?
No. Your employer cannot make any deductions from your paycheck without your consent to the deductions.
I work in the same job classification as a person of the opposite sex, but I am paid less. Is this legal?
No employer shall discriminate between employees in the same establishment on the basis of sex by paying one employee more or less than he pays to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable skill, effort and responsibility in which they are performed under similar working conditions. However, nothing prohibits wage deferential based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quality production or any other reasonable deferential which is based on a factor other than sex.
If I complain about equal pay, whose wages would be adjusted?
An employer who is paying a wage deferential in violation of the act shall not reduce the wages of any employee in order to be in compliance.
Can an employer terminate an employee for a claim on equal pay?
No employer is allowed to terminate or discriminate against any employee who files a claim for equal pay.
Is an employer required by law to provide paid vacation, holidays, severance pay, sick pay or health insurance?
No. The State of Tennessee does not have a law that regulates fringe benefits. Company policy would be the determining factor. These and similar matters are also determined by an agreement between the employees and the employer, or their authorized representatives.
If an employer's policy provides a paid vacation and the employee's employment is terminated, is the employer required to compensate for any vacation time I have accrued but not used?
No. Unless the employer's policy or its labor agreement specifically requires compensation of unused "vacation pay or other compensatory time" to an employee upon his or her termination of employment, Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-2-103(a)(3) does not require that an employee's final wages include such compensation.
If an employee terminates voluntarily or involuntarily, does the employer have to pay all wages due at the time of termination?
The employer is required to pay all wages or compensation due the terminated employee on the next regular payday following the date of termination or 21 days thereafter, whichever comes last.
If the employer refuses payment of wages, what can the employee do?
Anyone who has a problem collecting wages can file a wage claim with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Labor Standards. If the circumstances are such that we are unable to help, the complainant is referred to court.
If an employee is still employed and the employer is not paying the employee correctly and they file a wage claim, can they be terminated?
There is no Tennessee law which prevents an employer from firing an employee because they file a complaint with our office, unless the complaint was equal pay.
Who determines how many hours a part-time employee may work and how long may an employee be consider part-time?
The employer sets the number of hours and makes the decision when the employee becomes a permanent employee.
My employer has just told me that I am going to be paid by direct deposit. Can he do this?
Yes, an employer can change the method of payment to direct deposit. However, the choice of the financial institution must be that of the employee.