Labor and Employment Law Overview: South Carolina

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • South Carolina law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide pregnancy accommodations. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • South Carolina requires the use of E-Verify and permits preemployment drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In South Carolina, there are requirements relating to child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • South Carolina has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, wage notices, wage deductions and pay statements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under South Carolina law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including maternity leave, crime victim leave, volunteer emergency responder leave, quarantine/isolation leave and bone marrow donation leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • South Carolina prohibits smoking in certain public indoor areas and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, South Carolina employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in South Carolina

South Carolina has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including pregnancy accommodation rights and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as the minimum wage and occupational safety and health.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

The South Carolina Human Affairs Law (SCHAL) applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The SCHAL prohibits employment discrimination based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • 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 and prohibits retaliation against individuals who oppose discrimination.

Pregnancy Accommodation

The SCHAL requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (including, but not limited to, lactation).

Reasonable accommodations may include:

  • More frequent or longer breaks;
  • A private place, other than a bathroom stall, for expressing milk;
  • A modified food or drink policy;
  • Seating, or allowing the employee to sit more frequently;
  • Assistance with manual labor;
  • Temporary transfer to a less-strenuous or less-hazardous vacant position;
  • Job restructuring or light duty;
  • Modified equipment or devices; and
  • A modified work schedule.

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, 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 and Disabilities (ADA): 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 status of new employees through E-Verify within three business days after hiring the employee.

Drug Testing

An employer that uses preemployment drug tests is required by state law to keep the results of such tests confidential.

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, Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: South Carolina, Preemployment Screening and Testing: South Carolina and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: Federal and 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.

All minors are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations including, but not limited to, those 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, repairing or cleaning certain power-driven machines and equipment; and
  • Exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations.

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations such as manufacturing, warehousing and construction.

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 and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in 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

South Carolina's health care continuation coverage law requires that group health insurance policies 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.

Payment of Wages

South Carolina employers must pay employees' wages in cash, or by negotiable check or warrant showing the pay date. An employer may pay wages by direct deposit under certain circumstances.

Wage Notices

An employer with five or more employees must notify each employee in writing, at the time they are hired, of the normal hours and wages agreed upon, the time and place of payment and the deductions that will be made from the wages, including payments to insurance programs. Alternatively, the employer may conspicuously post this notice at or near the place of work.

Any changes in the terms (excluding pay increases) must be made in writing at least seven calendar days before they become effective.

Wage Deductions

An employer may not make deductions from employees' 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.

Pay Statements

An employer 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, Payment of Wages: South Carolina and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

South Carolina has a few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees. These laws include:

  • Maternity leave (covering employers with 15 or more employees);
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Military leave;
  • 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 time off and leave of absence practices in South Carolina can be found in the South Carolina Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: South Carolina, Jury Duty: South Carolina, USERRA: South Carolina, Other Leaves: South Carolina and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key South Carolina requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

The South Carolina Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits a person from smoking in certain public indoor areas, including facilities providing children's services, health care facilities (except for employee break areas), elevators, arenas and auditoriums. Smoking is permitted in other public buildings, but the owner, manager or agent in charge of the premises must make every reasonable effort to prevent designated smoking areas from impinging upon designated smoke-free areas.

In areas where smoking is permitted, an employer must conspicuously display signs designating smoking and nonsmoking areas. However, signs are not required for private offices.

Safe Driving Practices

Drivers in South Carolina are prohibited from using a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, except in hands-free mode or where necessary to summon emergency services.

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 the South Carolina Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: South Carolina, Employee Health: 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 HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key South Carolina requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

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

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

References

South Carolina law protects from civil liability an employer that responds to a written request concerning a current or former employee. The employer may disclose to a prospective employer:

  • Written employee evaluations;
  • Official personnel notices that formally record the reasons for separation;
  • Whether the employee was voluntarily or involuntarily released from service and the reason for the separation; and
  • Information about job performance.

The employer may also provide dates of employment, pay level and wage history to a prospective employer.

The employer may lose immunity if it knowingly or recklessly discloses false information.

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, Performance Appraisals: South Carolina and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in South Carolina? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Performance Appraisals: Federal.