Overall, break laws play a vital role in promoting a healthy work environment, enhancing productivity, and safeguarding the rights of employees.
Georgia has laws in place that define the rights of employees and the obligations of employers in providing appropriate breaks for their employees while complying with the law.
This article aims to provide an overview of Georgia’s break laws, outlining the guidelines for meal breaks, rest breaks, and other related provisions.
This article covers:
- Meal and Break Period Regulations in Georgia
- Exceptions and Compensation to Break Law in Georgia
- Bathroom Breaks in Georgia
- Breastfeeding Breaks in Georgia
- Meal and Break Period Regulations for Minors in Georgia
- Revoking a Given Meal or Rest break policy in Georgia
- Breaks for Georgia Employees Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Filing a Complaint for Unpaid in Georgia
Neither the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) nor Georgia law mandate the provision of breaks or meal periods to employees.
However, it is common for many employers to offer such breaks.
Typically, these breaks are of short duration, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes.
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.
In Georgia, the regulations concerning bathroom breaks are separate from those regarding meal and rest periods. While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not specify a specific number or duration for bathroom breaks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the federal level requires employers to provide safe and readily accessible bathroom facilities.
According to OSHA regulations, employers must allow workers to take bathroom breaks as needed without imposing unreasonable restrictions. While employers have the discretion to deny meal and rest breaks, they cannot excessively limit employees’ access to bathroom facilities.
It is important to recognize that the frequency of bathroom breaks may vary among employees.
Starting August 5, 2020, Georgia has adopted the new law, known as Charlotte’s Law, which deals with the rights of breastfeeding employees in the private sector.
As per Charlotte’s Law, 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.
If you want to know more about the entitlements of salaried and hourly employees, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Georgia, and your rights as an hourly employee in Georgia.
As mentioned above, both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Georgia state laws do not mandate employers to provide meal and rest breaks to workers.
These regulations apply to both adult employees and those under 18 years of age.
Consequently, there is no distinction in policy for minor employees, and they are not entitled to meal and rest breaks if their employer does not offer them.
Employers in Georiga have the authority to revoke their decision to provide breaks or impose any limitations to said breaks that they deem necessary at any given time.
This is because employers are not obligated to provide meal and rest breaks to their employees according to both federal and Georgia laws,
As such, it is within the employer’s discretion to voluntarily offer such breaks or revoke them.
In Georgia, employees have the right to request “reasonable accommodation” from their employer for health-related reasons that fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Adjustments to the work schedule and additional breaks may be considered as reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
Therefore, qualifying employees can request extra rest breaks, particularly if they require medication or regular health monitoring.
The ADA applies to local and state governments as well as private employers with a minimum of 15 employees and defines a disability as a health condition that significantly limits one or more major life activities.
It’s worth noting that under the ADA, employers are not obligated to provide reasonable accommodations if doing so would result in undue hardship for the business. This could be the case if the accommodations pose safety risks in the workplace or require excessive difficulty or expenses.
Employers are also not required to offer health-related breaks to employees who do not meet the eligibility criteria defined by the ADA.
Although employers in Georgia are not required to provide breaks to their employees, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), if they choose to provide any breaks, they are required to compensate for them.
Breaks that require compensation include short breaks lasting between five and 20 minutes as well as work performed during lunch breaks.
Despite there not being any specific enforcement system at the state level to address unpaid break wages, employees who encounter issues with unpaid breaks can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor or pursue legal action through a lawsuit.
Employees have a two-year window from the date of the FLSA violation to file such claims. In cases where the employer’s violation was intentional, this deadline is extended to three years for both claims and lawsuits relating to unpaid wages.
Learn more about Georgia Labor Laws through our detailed guide.
Important Cautionary Note
When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.