State of North Carolina temporary employees may not work more than 11 consecutive months without a lapse in employment of 31 or more consecutive calendar days. This is called the Mandatory Separation Requirement. It is also known as the “31-day break” or “break-in-service.” Individuals are eligible for state government re-employment into temporary positions on the 32nd day.

The Mandatory Separation Requirement is sometimes referred to as a furlough, but this is inaccurate. Temporaries who are separated after working for 11 consecutive months are no longer employed by the state and are not guaranteed re-employment.

Time counted toward the 11-month requirement is continuous regardless of how many consecutive temporary assignments you have. In other words, the 11-month “clock” does not restart if you transfer to a different temporary assignment without being separated for at least 31 consecutive calendar days.

Exceptions to the Mandatory Separation Requirement

There are five “categories” of temporaries that are exempt from the Mandatory Separation Requirement, per 25 NCAC 01C .0405 and the State Temporary Employment Policy. Temporaries in these categories may work for more than 11 consecutive months without a 31-day lapse of employment.

  • Retirees who certify that they are not available for or seeking permanent employment
  • Full-time students - undergraduates taking at least twelve (12) semester hours or graduate students taking at least nine (9) semester hours. To qualify for the exception and verify eligibility, full-time students must provide Temporary Solutions with a copy of their course schedule each semester.
  • Interns - students who, regardless of the number of credit hours enrolled, work to gain occupational experience for a period of time not to exceed three months
  • Externs - students who, regardless of the number of credit hours enrolled, are employed as part of a written agreement between the state and an academic institution through which the student is paid and earns course credit
  • Inmates who are in a work-release program.

Written exceptions may also be granted in accordance with the Communicable Disease Emergency Policy, but are otherwise not authorized to meet the business needs of the employing work unit.

Examples of the Mandatory Separation Requirement

No exception

Jane is a new temporary employee. Her assignment began on July 1. She is not retired, a full-time student, intern, extern, or inmate. Jane can work as a temporary until May 31 of the following year (11 months later). If her first day of being separated from employment is June 1, Jane must be separated from the State of North Carolina temporary employment through July 1 (31 days later). She is eligible for re-employment as a state government temporary on July 2 (the 32nd day).

Exempted category

Claire retired from the State of North Carolina on January 1. She was hired in a part-time temporary position on October 1. Since Claire is retired, she may work longer than 11 consecutive months without separating.

Exception ends

Mike is hired into a temporary position while enrolled in college as a full-time student. Mike works for 15 consecutive months without being separated because he is in an exempted category. He graduates from college and is no longer a full-time student. Because Mike has worked for more than 11 consecutive months without being separated, even though he was in an exempted category, he must be separated immediately because his exemption has ended.

Summer break for full-time students

Rob is a full-time college student and has been employed as a temporary for 11 consecutive months by the end of the spring semester. He is enrolled for the fall semester as a full-time student but is not taking summer classes. Rob may continue to work throughout the summer without separating because of his full-time enrollment in the spring and the fall. If Rob’s fall semester full-time status changes during the summer, he must be separated immediately because his exemption has ended.

Consecutive temporary assignments

Joyce is not retired, a full-time student, intern, extern or inmate. She works as a temporary for the Department of Health and Human Services for six months. Joyce then transfers to a different temporary assignment with the Department of Public Safety without being separated for 31 consecutive days. She may work for five more months in her new assignment and then must be separated from temporary employment.