Labor and Employment Law Overview: South Carolina

This item is part of Labor and Employment Law Overview: Federal

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • A South Carolina employer is prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • South Carolina permits preemployment medical testing, drug testing and criminal background checks, and requires the use of E-Verify. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In South Carolina, there are requirements relating to child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • South Carolina has limited regulations pertaining to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, wage deductions and wage statements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under South Carolina law, employees are entitled to a number of leaves, including maternity leave, jury duty leave, crime victim leave, volunteer emergency responder leave and bone marrow donation leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • South Carolina operates a state-specific occupational health and safety plan. See Health and Safety.
  • South Carolina employers must abide by final pay requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in South Carolina

South Carolina is considered an employer-friendly state.

Select South Carolina employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key South Carolina requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

South Carolina Human Affairs Law

The South Carolina Human Affairs Law (SCHAL) applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The SCHAL mirrors federal law pertaining to protections against employment discrimination based on:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Color;
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions);
  • Age;
  • National origin (including ancestry); and
  • Disability.

The SCHAL also prohibits harassment based on these protected characteristics.

Retaliation

An employer in South Carolina is prohibited from retaliating against employees under laws related to:

  • Discrimination;
  • Safety and health; and
  • Workers' compensation.

Discrimination Against Smokers

A South Dakota employer is prohibited from basing personnel actions, such as employment, discipline, demotion or termination, on an employee's off-site tobacco use.

Discrimination Based on Political Opinions

In South Dakota, it is unlawful to terminate an employee because of political opinions or the exercise of political rights and privileges.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in South Carolina can be found in the South Carolina Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: South Carolina, EEO - Harassment: South Carolina, EEO - Retaliation: South Carolina, Disabilities (ADA): South Carolina, Employee Discipline: South Carolina, South Carolina Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key South Carolina requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

E-Verify

The South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act requires all employers to verify the legal status of new employees. In addition to completing and maintaining the federal employment eligibility verification form, the Form I-9, an employer must verify the status of new employees through E-Verify within three business days after hiring the employee.

Medical Testing

An employer may not conduct a medical examination or make inquiries of job applicants regarding the presence, nature or severity of a disability. Rather, an employer may only inquire as to the ability of an applicant to perform job-related functions.

If an offer of employment is made, an employer may then require a medical examination, but only if the examination is required of all applicants and is job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Drug Testing

Drug testing of job applicants is allowed in South Carolina, but employers are required by state law to keep the results of such tests confidential.

Criminal Background Check

An employer is permitted to consider criminal conviction records in employment decisions and may generally ask job applicants about arrests or convictions as part of the application process.

Some employers are required to perform criminal background checks of job applicants, including (but not limited to) school districts, charter schools, private security firms, investigation agencies, fire departments and alcohol retailers.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in South Carolina can be found in the South Carolina Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Preemployment Screening and Testing: South Carolina and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Child labor laws in South Carolina restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Minors ages 16 and 17 may not work in occupations involving:

  • Manufacturing or storing explosives;
  • Driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper;
  • Logging or operating a sawmill, lath mill, shingle mill or cooperage-stock mill;
  • Operating, helping to operate, setting up, adjusting, repairing, oiling or cleaning certain power-driven machines and equipment;
  • Exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations;
  • Manufacturing clay construction products and silica refractory products;
  • Wrecking, demolition and shipbreaking operations;
  • Roofing operations;
  • Excavating, working in or backfilling (refilling) trenches;
  • Working in or about slaughtering and meat-packing establishments, rendering plants or wholesale, retail or service establishments; and
  • Mining, other than coal.

In addition to the above occupations, minors ages 14 and 15 may not work in the following occupations:

  • Manufacturing, mining or processing;
  • The operation or tending of hoisting apparatuses or of any power-driven machinery other than office machines;
  • Public messenger service;
  • Occupations in connection with:
    • Transportation of persons or property by rail, highway, air, water, pipeline or other means;
    • Warehousing and storage;
    • Communications and public utilities; and
    • Construction (including demolition and repair), except certain office or sales work or sales work;
  • Work performed in or about boiler or engine rooms;
  • Work in connection with maintenance or repair of the establishment, machines or equipment;
  • Outside window washing that involves working from window sills, and all work requiring the use of ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes;
  • Cooking and baking, with certain exceptions;
  • Occupations that involve operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers, and cutters, and bakery-type mixers;
  • Work in freezers and meat coolers and all work in the preparation of meats for sale, with certain exceptions;
  • Loading and unloading goods to and from trucks, railroad cars or conveyors;
  • All occupations in warehouses except office and clerical work; and
  • Certain agricultural occupations.

Minors ages 14 and 15 may not work:

  • During school hours;
  • More than 40 hours in a week when school is not in session;
  • More than 18 hours in a week when school is in session;
  • More than eight hours in a day when school is not in session;
  • More than three hours in a day when school is in session;
  • Before 7:00 a.m.;
  • After 7:00 p.m. during the school year; or
  • After 9:00 p.m. during the summer break.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in South Carolina can be found in Child Labor: South Carolina. Federal requirements can be found in Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key South Carolina requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation Coverage

South Carolina's health care continuation coverage law requires that group health insurance policies issued to employees include continuation coverage for all employees or members who have been continuously insured for at least six months and whose coverage has been terminated for any reason (other than nonpayment of premium). Continuation coverage is available for the remainder of the month when coverage terminates, plus six months, as long as the group policy or a successor policy remains in force and the employee or member makes timely premium payments.

Wage Deductions

Employers with five or more employees are prohibited from making deductions from employee' wages unless the deductions are legally required by state or federal law (e.g., for employment taxes) or the employer has notified the employee in writing of the amount and terms of the deductions.

Wage Statements

Employers with five or more employees must provide each employee with an itemized statement for each pay period showing gross pay and any deductions made.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in South Carolina can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): South Carolina and Payment of Wages: South Carolina. Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Attendance and Leave

South Carolina has fewer laws relating to required leaves for employees than many other states, but does have mandated leave laws such as:

  • Maternity leave (covering employers with 15 or more employees);
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Military leave;
  • Volunteer emergency responder leave;
  • Quarantine/isolation leave; and
  • Bone marrow donation leave (covering employers with 20 or more employees).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in South Carolina can be found in the South Carolina Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: South Carolina, USERRA: South Carolina and Other Leaves: South Carolina. Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

South Carolina operates a state-specific occupational health and safety program, which applies to all employers. Certain exceptions apply (e.g., maritime employers, employers on military bases and employers in "Area D" of the Savannah River Site and the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority).

South Carolina has adopted the federal OSHA guidelines, but has some unique statutes, including regulations for the construction industry.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in South Carolina can be found in HR and Workplace Safety: South Carolina and South Carolina Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

An employer with five or more employees must pay terminated employees (whether voluntary or involuntary) all wages due:

  • Within 48 hours of the day of termination; or
  • On the next regularly scheduled payday, not to exceed 30 days after termination.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in South Carolina can be found in Payment of Wages: South Carolina. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal.