Georgia Labor Laws

March 14th 2024

This article covers:

What Are Georgia's Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Minimum Wage $7.25
Overtime Laws 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week ($10.88 for minimum wage workers)
Break Laws Breaks not required by law

What Are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Georgia?

In Georgia, when hiring, both federal and state laws are utilized to ensure equal opportunity for all individuals. Employers in Georgia should adhere to federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to avoid any kind of workplace discrimination. Specifically pertaining to recruitment, there are several acts that apply, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects job applicants 40 years of age and older from being unlawfully denied employment based on age, as well as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits discrimination based on genetic information. Lastly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex.

In Georgia, employees have the right to choose whether or not to join a labor union thanks to the state’s adoption of a “right-to-work” statute in 1947. This law also prohibits any entity – whether it be a labor organization, union, employer, corporation, or association – from forcing employees to join or refrain from joining a labor organization as a requirement for employment. Additionally, employees cannot be forced to strike or refrain from striking in order to obtain or maintain employment, nor can any payment or fee be required as a condition of employment. Employers cannot deduct wages or earnings to be paid to a labor organization. Violating these provisions is considered a misdemeanor.

In Georgia, employers have the right to terminate employment without reason, but not if it’s due to discrimination or retaliation. Similarly, employees can quit their jobs at any time without penalty. However, if an employee’s wages are subject to garnishment, then they cannot be fired. Employers are not required to give final paychecks at the time of termination in Georgia, but must follow federal regulations by providing it on the next scheduled payroll day.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Georgia?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Georgia that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • Ban the Box Law  This policy is designed to prevent discrimination against job applicants with criminal records. It’s meant to provide more job opportunities for such individuals within state employment offices. In accordance with the policy, employers are not allowed to inquire about an applicant’s criminal record during the initial stage of the hiring process. Despite having a criminal record, it’s still possible for someone to seek certain jobs and licenses without revealing their past. This can be achieved by requesting record restriction through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Georgia Crime Information Center.
  • Occupational Safety in Georgia – Established by federal law, OSHA sets safety standards for most private employers and their employees. These standards offer protection from a wide range of hazards, including biological hazards (like mold and pests), chemical and dust hazards (including asbestos), work organization hazards that cause stress, safety hazards (like slips and falls), physical hazards (such as noise and radiation), and ergonomic hazards (like lifting and awkward postures). The OSHA has the authority to inspect workplaces during working hours to ensure that these standards are being followed. Employers who violate the rules can face penalties of up to $70,000 per violation.
  • Whistleblower Protection Act – According to Georgia law, public employers and governmental entities that receive state funds must investigate any complaints from public employees that involve fraud, abuse, or waste under the employer’s supervision. The whistleblower’s identity should not be disclosed unless the employer deems it necessary, and if so, the employee must be notified in writing at least a week before disclosure. Employers cannot prevent employees from reporting violations or retaliate against them for doing so. If employees are discriminated against, the court may order them to be reinstated or given similar positions or compensation for lost wages and benefits.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – According to Georgia law, employers are required to keep certain records for 4 years. These records consist of employee information such as name, social security number, date of hire and work location, address, and wages paid including dates of payment. Also included are reimbursement and expense information, hours worked, pay period dates, quarterly wages, pay period earnings, and leave days.
  • COBRA Law – The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows terminated employees to have a temporary extension of their health benefits, whether they left the job voluntarily or were involuntarily terminated. This means that eligible employees can prolong their health coverage for up to 36 months. However, this act only applies to companies that have more than 20 employees.

Georgia Payment Laws

What is the Minimum Payment in Georgia?

Georgia’s state minimum wage is currently at $5.15 per hour, which is lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. However, this state minimum wage only applies to certain types of employment, specifically those that are not subject to the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour applies to those who have 5 or fewer employees, have a sales limit of $40,000 per year, employ domestic workers, farm owners, sharecroppers or land renters, tipped employees, high school or college students, newspaper carriers, and employees who work in nonprofit institutions for children or mentally disabled adults. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who are subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws are entitled to the higher rate.

If you’re curious about the minimum wage for tipped employees in Georgia for 2024, the exemption from the state minimum wage means that tipped employees must instead abide by the federal minimum of $2.13 per hour. However, it’s important to note that tipped workers must earn at least $7.25 per hour in total. If their hourly wages plus tips don’t add up to that amount, their employer is required to compensate them for the difference.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Georgia?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, there are certain employees who are exempt from being paid the minimum wage. These employees include:

  • executive, administrative, learned and creative professionals
  • computer workers who meet certain pay requirements
  • highly compensated employees
  • outside sales employees
  • tipped employees
  • minors

Each of these employee groups has specific pay requirements or job functions that determine their exemption from minimum wage laws.

Georgia’s minimum wage for employees under 20 years of age is $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment, after which they are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In addition, full-time students who work in retail, agriculture, or at colleges and universities are entitled to 85% of the minimum wage. Employers who want to hire full-time students must obtain a working certificate, and should be aware that full-time students can work up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session.

What is the Payment Due Date in Georgia?

Most workers in Georgia are paid twice a month, except for those in farming, sawmill, and turpentine industries, or those in positions of authority with stipulated salaries, who may be paid monthly or annually.

What Are Georgia Overtime Laws?

Georgia lacks state labor laws that address overtime pay, so federal regulations come into effect. Non-exempted workers who surpass a 40-hour workweek receive an overtime rate of 1.5 times their typical pay rate. But the FLSA (as previously described) doesn’t demand overtime pay for weekend or holiday labor or regular days off.

What are the Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Georgia?

Starting from January 1, 2020, the US Department of Labor increased the salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay from $455 to $684 per week, which equals to $35,568 annually. In addition, the salary cutoff for highly compensated employees was raised from $100,000 to $107,432 per year. The FLSA does not limit the number of overtime hours a worker can work as long as they are at least 16 years old.

Certain employees are exempt from overtime pay under the FLSA, such as:

  • Executives
  • Administrative employees
  • Highly compensated employees
  • Learned and creative professionals
  • Computer employees
  • Outside sales employees

However, this exemption does not apply to blue-collar workers or emergency responders.

It should be noted that Georgia is one of the states that offer a Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW), which allows salaried workers with fluctuating schedules to receive overtime pay of one-half times their regular hourly pay. Employees who use the FWW Method to calculate their schedules are not subject to overtime pay rules.

Learn more in detail about Georgia Salaried Employees Laws and Georgia Overtime Laws.

What Are Georgia's Time Off/Break Laws?

It’s not mandatory to have a 15-minute break in Georgia. Employers are not obligated under federal law or Georgia law to provide breaks or meal periods to their workers.

What are the Exceptions to Break Law in Georgia?

However, some companies give their employees breaks to enhance productivity and enhance their morale. Breaks lasting from 5 to 20 minutes are considered compensable, with those surpassing 30 minutes being unpaid. If a worker is required to work during a 30-minute break, such as a factory operative who needs to stay near the machine, then the meal break should be paid.

What are Georgia's Breastfeeding Laws?

Starting August 5, 2020, private employers are required to give breastfeeding mothers reasonable paid time to express milk at work. The break must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay. In addition, a separate room, other than a bathroom, is also required for mothers to pump milk according to federal law. This new law, known as Charlotte’s law, applies to all private employers.

Learn more in detail about Georgia Salaried Employees Laws and Georgia Break Laws.

What Are Georgia's Leave Laws?

Under federal law, employers are not legally required to compensate workers for unworked time. However, many employers still offer time off to their staff, either with or without pay. It’s worth noting that there may be varying regulations for employers in the public and private sectors. In Georgia, there are two categories of leave days: mandatory and non-mandatory.

What is Georgia Required Leave?

  • Sick Leave (Public Employers) – In Georgia, if you’re a full-time public employee, you get 15 days (3 weeks) of sick leave. But you can’t accrue more than 3 weeks, and you can only keep up to 90 days (720 hours) of sick leave before you lose any extra time.
  • Holiday Leave (Public Employers) – State regulations require state employers to provide 12 paid holidays to their employees each year. On those days, state offices should remain closed. In case an employee is required to work on a state holiday, they should be compensated with an alternative day off. If a holiday falls on a rest day, it can be observed on a given day.
  • Annual Leave – Georgia employees can enjoy annual leave, which can be used for vacation or any other reason to take time off work. As employees stay longer in service, their accrued paid leave increases as per the following scheme: 15 days per year/10 hours per month for the first 5 years of service, 18 days per year/12 hours per month for the next 5 years, and 21 days per year/14 hours per month after 10 years of service. It’s important to note that the maximum leave one can accrue is 45 days (360 hours) since anything above this limit is forfeited.
  • Family and Medical Leave – The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that allows qualifying employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 work weeks a year. It applies to situations such as an employee or their family member suffering from a serious illness, taking care of a newborn, and more. To be eligible for FMLA benefits in Georgia, individuals must work for the state for at least 12 months (or 1,250 hours).
  • Jury Leave – As a Georgia citizen, serving on a jury is a duty that cannot be avoided. To ensure that every jury is made up of impartial and responsible members, Georgia law requires employers to give employees time off (with or without pay) to serve on a jury.
  • Voting Leave – As per the law, all workers in Georgia have the right to vote in any local, regional, state or comparable election. In compliance with this policy, organizations are responsible for authorizing a 2-hour off period, whether compensated or not, to workers who elect to exercise their right to vote on election day.
  • Military Leave – If an employee decides to leave their job to perform military service (whether it be federal or state), they are entitled to receive paid or unpaid leave of up to five years. Additionally, they can receive leave benefits to attend training for a maximum of six months during a four-year period.

What is Georgia Non-Required Leave?

As an employer, there are situations, where you may not be required to offer your employees leave days:

  • Sick Leave (Private Employers) – As per the law, private employers do not have any obligation to grant their employees paid or unpaid leave in case of sickness.
  • Holiday Leave (Private Employer) – As a private employer, it is not mandatory to offer holiday leave to your employees or to pay them for their time off. Additionally, you have the right to ask employees to work on holidays without any obligation to pay them extra compensation.
  • Bereavement Leave – When a family member dies, some people may take Bereavement Leave. However, in Georgia there is no specific law that governs bereavement leave. Instead, it is up to individual companies to create their own policies and guidelines.

Here is a table of official US holidays:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about Georgia Leave Laws.

Georgia Child Labor Laws

In this part of the article we will be talking about regulations on working hours for minors and about banned jobs for minors.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Georgia?

In Georgia, minors under 16 can work for up to 4 hours on a school day and up to 8 hours on a non-school day. When school is not in session, they can work up to 40 hours. They can’t work before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and can’t work during school hours unless they have completed high school or received permission from the board of education. Federal time restrictions vary for different age groups, but in general, 16-17 year olds can work unlimited hours in non-hazardous occupations and 14-15 year olds have limits on how many hours they can work on school days and during school weeks.

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Georgia?

If you’re between 12 and 16 years old and want a job, your school administration must issue an employment certificate. However, if you’re under 12, you’re not allowed to get paid for any kind of work, but you can still do things like mow the lawn or help out around the house for an allowance.

In Georgia, any individual who is considered a minor is allowed to take one hour for mealtime, or instead take half an hour for a meal break and an extra thirty minutes for enjoying some leisure activities or resting. Kids under the age of 16 can’t work jobs that involve machinery, butchering, scaffolding, or anything else that might put them at risk of getting hurt. This is to protect them from temporary or permanent injuries or illnesses. It’s prohibited for anyone under 18 to handle alcoholic beverages by serving, selling, dispensing, or taking orders for them. Nonetheless, minors can work in supermarkets, convenience stores, breweries, or drugstores as long as the alcohol is sold for off-site consumption.

The Labor Commissioner or their representative has the authority to conduct inspections at workplaces where minors are employed. Employers who hire minors are required to maintain work certificates and related records on site for the duration of the minor’s employment. These records should include the hours worked by the minor in question. If anyone violates the regulations regarding child labor stated previously, they will be held responsible for a misdemeanor offense.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.