Georgia Overtime Laws

January 14th 2024

Understanding overtime laws is necessary to guarantee that workers who put in extra time are compensated fairly. Georgia labor laws do not 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. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t demand overtime pay for weekend, holiday labor, or regular days off.

This article will provide you with the information to successfully navigate Georgia’s overtime regulations, whether you’re an employer aiming for compliance or an employee defending your rights.

This article covers:

Georgia Overtime Rates

Overtime in Georgia is fixed at 1.5 times the regular hourly wage for employees who exceed 40 hours a week.

Since the regular Georgia minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, Georgia’s overtime minimum wage is $10.88 per hour (one and a half times the minimum wage).

Overtime Entitlement in Georgia 

In general, workers paid by the hour in non-exempt industries who make less than $684 per week ($35,568 annually) are entitled to overtime compensation.

Certain categories of workers who satisfy the FLSA’s overtime pay criteria are automatically eligible to earn overtime compensation for every hour worked beyond 40 in a week. You are likely covered by the overtime rules if your job requires manual labor.

Under the FLSA, overtime protection is particularly provided for all first responders, which includes police, paramedics, and firemen.

Nurse practitioners and paralegals, who would ordinarily come under the exempt category, are also covered by the overtime rule because they frequently put in long hours of work and may otherwise be abused or overworked by their employers.

Compensatory Time in Georgia

Instead of paying non-exempt workers extra for the hours worked beyond 40 per week, a compensatory time off policy, often known as a “comp time” policy, gives them compensated time off that they can use in the future.

Every hour worked overtime by an employee entitles them to get 1.5 paid hours off.

Only public employees are eligible to obtain “comp time” instead of overtime compensation in Georgia, as they do in other states. This practice is prohibited under the FLSA for all non-governmental businesses.

Refusing to Work Overtime in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Labour grants your employer the authority to require you to put in overtime despite your approval as long as they pay you overtime payments. An employer can legally dismiss you if you refuse to put in the required overtime.

Georgia’s overtime regulations do not mandate that anybody working more than 8 hours per day be paid overtime. Only following a workweek can an employer establish if you worked overtime.

Overtime Pay for Tipped Employees in Georgia 

When an employee who receives tips works overtime, their overtime rate is determined using the entire minimum wage rather than the employer’s reduced cash wage. Overtime hours cannot be given a bigger tip credit by the employer than regular hours.

Overtime for Salaried Employees in Georgia 

Salaried employees covered under the FLSA can receive overtime pay. Federal laws require employers to compensate employees who work over 40 hours per week.

Employees with a yearly salary of $35,568 or less are eligible for overtime compensation.

Under the FLSA, whether an employee is entitled to overtime is based upon the employee’s job duties – not their job title and not whether they are salaried or hourly.

Calculating Georgia Overtime with Commission 

To determine overtime pay in Georgia, payments like bonuses, commissions, and other additional compensations are taken into account when calculating the regular rate.

Commissioned Workers Overtime Rate = Half of the normal rate

Normal rate = (total hours times hourly rate) plus the workweek equivalent of the bonus and/or commission, divided by the total hours in the workweek

This means that if you earn an hourly wage of $10 and receive a weekly commission of $40, your overtime pay rate would be based on an hourly rate of $11 (for a 40-hour workweek). The rate will then be halved which would make it $5.50 per hour and is factored into your overtime rate calculation alongside your regular hourly wage of $10.

The amount will vary according to your hours worked, hourly rate, and commission earned.

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 $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.

Penalties for Misclassifying Employees in Georgia

Georgia abides by the federal Fair Labour and Standards Act, thus any employment misclassification will result in federal sanctions.  Employers are required to reimburse employees for any accrued pay as a result of the misclassification if a violation is discovered.

For instance, if an employer incorrectly exempts a worker from overtime compensation, the business is still obligated to reimburse the worker for the extra they were supposed to get but didn’t. The Department of Labour may file a lawsuit for unpaid wages if required. To stop additional infractions, the Department may potentially file an injunction.

Investigators may impose a $10,000 maximum penalty on the employer if they discover that the employer knowingly misclassified workers. If the investigation reveals that the employer intentionally misclassified workers a second time, the employer may be sentenced to jail.

Legal Cases Relating to Overtime Compensation in Georgia

Below, we present law cases relating to fair overtime compensation for employees in Georgia: 

1. Retired Georgia Battalion Chief Files Lawsuit for Unpaid Overtime and Breach of Contract

The case Vickery v. City of Roswell, GA, which was initiated in 2022, highlights a claim that the City of Roswell’s pay practices has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Georgia state laws.

In this case, retired battalion chief Edwin Vickery from the Roswell, Georgia Fire Department claims that he and the other battalion chiefs were incorrectly designated as exempted from overtime. He insists to have held roles such as fire captain and battalion chief throughout his tenure with the Department. He claimed to often put in more than 212 hours throughout a 28-day workweek without being compensated for those extra hours. 

The complaint also asserts that Roswell failed to pay Vickery for work completed outside of shift hours and neglected to keep correct time records for such labor.

Vickery also claims that Roswell willfully violated the FLSA by its actions and demands reimbursement for unpaid overtime pay, liquidated damages, legal fees, and litigation costs. A breach of contract lawsuit is also included, claiming that Vickery was not compensated by Roswell for earned PTO and holiday pay when he retired.

The case is still pending.

Key lessons from this case:

  • Employers are required to accurately track, record, and pay workers for all hours worked, including any extra time put in before or after employees’ planned shifts on jobs.
  • The case reaffirms the idea of offering fair compensation for extra labor. It emphasizes how crucial it is to guarantee that workers are fairly compensated for the extra hours they put in beyond the typical workweek. 
  • This case acts as a reminder of the difficulties and ramifications of overtime labor laws, including the requirement for adherence, the significance of court interpretation, and the employers’ burden of evidence. 
2. Georgia Workers and Employer Agree to Settle Unpaid Overtime Claims

The case Rumph v. Jones Septic Tank, Inc., initiated in 2021, stated that four individuals, who were both (at the time) present and past workers of Jones Septic Tank, Inc., did not receive their overtime pay. According to them, the Jones Septic violated the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to provide them overtime earnings.

Employers are required by the Fair Labour Standards Act to provide employees with 1.5 times their usual hourly rate for any hours performed more than the typical 40-hour workweek. Employees may file a lawsuit to recover their underpaid overtime earnings from employers who breach this clause. The FLSA permits the employee and employer to make settlement agreements to end claims for unpaid wages, but these agreements need to be approved by a judge to be fair.

After reviewing the settlement terms, the court stated that the employees’ payout is a fair compromise. Following the FLSA, the settlement agreement pays the employees’ unpaid overtime earnings as well as extra liquidated damages.

The court granted the settlement between both parties although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the case.

Key lessons from this case:

  • This case raises the possibility that the claimed failure of paying overtime wages properly may have harmed more than one employee, pointing to a probable pattern of non-compliance by the business.
  • The employees’ rights to appropriate overtime compensation are taken into account because of the court’s oversight of and approval of the settlement agreement. To guarantee a just conclusion, the court looks at variables such as the sum of damages granted.
  • An employer needs to manage their employees’ work hours and compensations while also understanding basic FLSA requirements.
3. Michael Gouldie, on Behalf of Colleagues, Files Lawsuit Against Employer for FLSA Violation

The case Gouldie v. Trace Staffing Solutions LLC, initiated in 2021, highlights that Michael Gouldie, a recruiter at Trace Staffing Solutions, claims to have been subjected to FLSA breaches by his employer. He is also attempting to speak on behalf of 56 others who are in similar circumstances.

Michael Gouldie worked at Trace Staffing as a recruiter and often worked for 55-60 hours each week. He claimed to have not received overtime compensation for those extra hours worked.

As Gouldie sought to speak on behalf of other colleagues, he had to pass a 2-step process held by the court. Gouldie has met the first criteria, in which the voluntary workers have to be “similarly situated” to the complainant. Despite having varied job titles at Trace Staffing, recruiters all have similar recruitment responsibilities, which puts them in similar positions.

Gouldie, however, failed to comply with the next condition, which demands that other workers submit written consent submitted to the court. Although Gouldie asserts that more recruiters may be keen on joining the complaint, he does not have any supporting documentation, such as statements or permissions from other workers. 

The court finds that it is improper to use its authority to issue notice and might potentially spark needless litigation in the absence of any new proof or consent.

The court then rejected the motion for conditional certification based on the record and the absence of new evidence. It highlights the significance of providing more information than just a single phrase in a statement to establish the presence of individuals in comparable positions.

Key lessons from this case:

  • It is important to provide consent when speaking on behalf of others in a court case. Failure to do so may affect the outcomes of the lawsuit.
  • Co-workers who can support claims of excessive hours worked or overtime breaches made by an employee might offer important testimony evidence. Co-workers’ candid sharing of their experiences can enhance the overall argument and improve the likelihood of victory.
  • When faced with wrongdoing involving overtime compensation, enlisting the aid of an employment law expert with experience in wage and hour laws may be quite helpful to ensure all required documents are prepared.

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.