Employment: Wages and Vacation Earned

Quick Facts



If you leave work, whether you quit or are discharged, you are entitled to any wages earned before the separation. Any wages you have earned must be paid on the next regular payday after your last day of work.

Unless you have agreed in writing to allow your employer to retain some of your wages under specific circumstances, your employer cannot withhold your wages.

If you believe that you are owed wages, you can contact the Department of Labor and make a complaint.

N.C. Department of Labor
Division of Wages & Hours
(800) 625-2267 


You may also visit the website at www.labor.nc.gov/contact


The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) enforces payment of the minimum wage and overtime pay for certain employers.  You can file a complaint with the USDOL by calling (866) 487-9243.  You may also visit their website at www.dol.gov/whd


You can also file a claim for money owed in Small Claims Court if your claim for wages is $10,000.00 or less.


You may wish to consult a private attorney before filing a legal action in small claims court for unpaid wages.  You may call the Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 662-7660 or (919) 677-8574 to obtain a consultation with a private attorney at a reduced fee.


Vacation Benefits

An employee separated from employment is entitled to the vacation time he has earned if the employer regularly provides vacation benefits. However, the employee might not be eligible for vacation benefits if the employer has a policy that specifically limits the vacation benefits and the employee has been properly notified of that policy.  


To find other Legal Aid of North Carolina materials, including any materials mentioned in this document, go to http://www.lawhelpnc.org/. If you need legal help please go to http://www.legalaidnc.org/.


Last Review and Update: Jul 30, 2019
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