What Is the Minimum Wage in Tennessee State?

Ben Steele  | 

Are you a worker or employer in Tennessee? If so, you may be interested in learning about minimum wage regulations. This guide will provide a comprehensive look at the minimum wage in The Volunteer State.

2020 Minimum Wage in Tennessee: $7.25 per hour

The state of Tennessee has not adopted a state minimum wage. That means that all federal minimum wage and other wage law applies across the state, with no legislation that overrides or deviates from the federal rules. This makes the effective minimum wage $7.25, just like the state’s northern neighbor, Kentucky.

Due to the fact that Tennessee follows federal wage laws, the federal subminimum wage of $4.25 applies to certain workers, such as student-learners, full-time students, and people with disabilities. Special certificates must be acquired from the Department of Labor in order to use this wage.

Tipped: $2.13 per hour

The minimum cash wage an employer must provide for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. Tennessee follows the federal standards for tipped employees, which allow employers to apply a maximum tip credit of $5.12 toward the pay of tipped workers. Tipped workers must still make a total $7.25 per hour, but up to $5.12 of that amount can come from tips provided by customers. 

Weekly: $290

The weekly minimum wage is calculated as the hourly minimum wage of $7.25 times 40 hours, which equals $290. This number is calculated pre-tax and pre-deduction, and it will not represent the actual take-home amount of most minimum-wage employees

Annually: $15,080

An individual earning the minimum wage will earn an estimated $15,080 annually. The annual rate of pay for a minimum wage worker is calculated as the weekly rate times 52 weeks in a year. This is how much a minimum wage worker should make in a year, and represents a minimum annual salary. Some salary workers are exempt from minimum wage and/or overtime laws depending on their occupation.

This number is pre-tax, and pre-deductions, so it will not represent the actual take-home pay of an employee working at minimum wage.

Overtime: $10.88 per hour

Federal law requires that all workers, unless specifically exempt, must be paid time plus one-half for every hour beyond 40 in a week. When a week begins and ends is up to the employer, however, it must consist of seven consecutive days. Overtime pay is not required on holidays unless it would be required under normal circumstances.

Tennessee Minimum Wage Increase News

Two bills — known as the Tennessee Minimum Wage Act — aim to increase Tennessee’s minimum wage to $15. Both bills, if passed, would increase the rate to $15 on July 1, 2020. However, both are unlikely to pass in the Senate.

The truth is, the state is very unlikely to see any movement in the minimum wage, unless the federal minimum wage rises. In fact, Tennessee has no wage legislation at all that differs from federal standards. Short of asking for a raise or taking on a side gig, employees earning the minimum wage may be unable to increase their income.


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Ben Steele is a writer, theatre(re) professional, and nonprofit administrator. He was born in England, spent his teen and early 20s in Canada, and now lives in America. Please excuse his occasionally confused voice and the odd recalcitrant u after an o.