Does your employer give you time off for vacation, sickness, personal days, or paid time off (PTO)? These policies are voluntary for employers in South Carolina. However, you may also have the legal right to take time off from your job under federal and South Carolina state law. For example, if you are recovering from a serious health condition or need to attend to practical matters arising from a family member’s military deployment, you may be entitled to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although South Carolina does not have a state family and medical leave law, it does require employers to give employees time off for military service and jury duty.
Below, we explain your right to job leave in South Carolina. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires larger employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (a spouse, parent, or child), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or to handle certain practical matters arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury during military service. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a broader category of family members, including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
Employers are covered by the FMLA only if they have at least 50 employees. To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. Employees may continue their employer-provided health benefits while on leave, and they must be reinstated when their FMLA leave is over. (Find out more about the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
While some states have their own laws requiring employers to provide more or different types of family and medical leave, South Carolina does not. Employees in South Carolina are protected only by the federal FMLA.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. These employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service. Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. (Learn more about USERRA inTaking Military Leave.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military (such as the militia) or are called to state active duty. In South Carolina, employees who are members of the U.S. or state national guard and are called to active duty by the governor of South Carolina are entitled to unpaid leave, and they must be reinstated when their service is complete unless the employer’s circumstances make this unreasonable.
South Carolina law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibility of serving on a jury. Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury service. This time off is unpaid. Under federal law, however, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. (For more information, see our article on pay docking.)