Compliance Watch:
What are my overtime rights in Georgia?

May 7th 2024

Overtime regulations are established to protect employees from exploitation and maintain fair working conditions. In Georgia, where there are no state-specific overtime laws, federal regulations govern overtime policies. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of your rights to ensure fair compensation for any work completed beyond regular hours.

This article explores the laws, rules, and common practices in Georgia concerning overtime work, addressing commonly asked questions. The aim is to empower employees with knowledge about their overtime rights, providing them with confidence as they navigate their careers.

This Article Covers

Understanding Overtime in Georgia
Common Questions About Overtime in Georgia
Legal Working Hours in Georgia 
Overtime Eligibility in Georgia 
    Overtime Payment Calculations in Georgia 
      Receiving Overtime Payment in Georgia 
      Violations of Overtime Law in Georgia 

      Understanding Overtime in Georgia

      Is overtime pay mandatory in Georgia?

      In Georgia, employees must be paid for overtime work unless they are exempt, or their employer is not subject to overtime laws. Georgia follows federal overtime laws outlined in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), since there are no state laws in place. Most employers are covered by the FLSA; therefore, they are required to fairly compensate eligible employees for overtime hours worked.

      When do I qualify for overtime pay in Georgia?

      In Georgia, both employers and employees follow the federal FLSA since there are no state-specific overtime laws. This means that any non-exempt employee who is 18 or older can get paid for extra hours worked. Overtime kicks in once an employee clocks 40 hours in a week, without any special rules for daily overtime. For every extra hour worked, employees get paid ‘time and a half,’ which is 1.5 times their regular pay rate.

      There is no limit to how many hours someone can work, but it is important for non-exempt employees to know that the overtime rate applies for every hour worked beyond 40 in a week, to prevent being taken advantage of.

      Weekends, nights, and holidays do not have special pay rates unless overtime hours are worked during those times. However, employers can set up different overtime policies if they want to.

      How much is overtime pay in Georgia?

      In Georgia, employees must be paid at least one and a half times their regular rate for overtime work. This applies to any hours worked beyond the 40-hour limit set by the FLSA in a week. For instance, if an employee earns $21 per hour regularly, their overtime rate would be $31.50 per hour.

      The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 per hour, therefore, the minimum overtime wage in Georgia is $10.88 per hour.

      Although the FLSA does not require double-time pay, employers can negotiate extra compensation for overtime or double-time with their employees or union representatives if they wish.

      Which laws govern overtime in Georgia?

      Employees in Georgia have the right to fair compensation for all their work. Since Georgia state laws do not cover overtime, federal laws, particularly the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), apply instead. Here are the key points under the FLSA:

      • Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek.
      • Overtime pay is set at one and a half times the regular pay rate.
      • Overtime is not obligatory for weekends, nights, or holidays unless extra hours are worked during these periods.
      • There is no cap on the maximum hours an employee can be asked to work.
      • The FLSA operates on a weekly basis, consisting of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. This does not necessarily align with the traditional calendar week and can start on any chosen day. Employers have the flexibility to set different workweeks for their employees.

      Further details about overtime in Georgia can be found in Georgia Overtime Laws.

      Common Questions About Overtime in Georgia

      Do employers have to pay overtime in Georgia?

      In Georgia, employers governed by the FLSA are legally obligated to compensate non-exempt employees for all overtime worked. The FLSA applies to the majority of businesses, encompassing those with annual sales exceeding $500,000 or engaged in interstate commerce activities.

      While some small businesses may assume they are exempt, the scope of ‘interstate commerce’ is very broad. It includes interstate activities like telecommunications, mail services, or handling goods destined for other states. Consequently, it is rare for an organization to be exempt from the FLSA and thus exempt from overtime coverage.

      Can an employee refuse to work overtime in Georgia?

      In the state of Georgia, if an employer mandates overtime, employees are obliged to comply, as there are no limitations on working hours within the state or at the federal level. Failure to work overtime may lead to disciplinary action, including possible termination of employment. However, employees cannot be forced to work overtime if it contradicts the terms of their contract or collective bargaining agreement.

      Furthermore, specific industries, such as transportation, are governed by strict regulations stipulating maximum daily working hours. Employers must adhere to these regulations to uphold workplace health and safety standards.

      Can I take comp time instead of overtime pay in Georgia?

      Compensatory time, also known as comp time, is when employees get extra time off instead of payment. It is a common practice among employers to give comp time instead of overtime pay. However, this practice is only lawful in some cases to prevent businesses from exploiting their employees.

      In Georgia, only public workers can get comp time instead of overtime pay, and employers cannot force them to take it. Here are the rules for government agencies in Georgia:

      • Employees and employers must agree in writing before starting overtime work.
      • Employees should be allowed to use their comp time within a reasonable time of making the request, as long as it does not unduly disrupt the business operations.
      • If an employee ends up with more than 240 hours of comp time, they have to be paid for any extra overtime they work.

      Also, if comp time is given, it has to be worth the same as the overtime pay rate. That means employees should get an hour and a half of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked.

      Can I get overtime pay in Georgia without employer approval?

      In Georgia, non-exempt employees can receive payment for overtime work even if they did not get approval beforehand. This is because of the FLSA which says that if work happens and the employer knows about it, or should have known about it, then it counts as work time. All work must be paid for.

      However, it is not proper for employees to hide overtime work on purpose, and they could face disciplinary action for doing overtime without getting approval first.

      Does Georgia have double-time pay?

      In Georgia, there are no state laws requiring employers to pay double-time for specific hours or days worked. Similarly, federal laws, including the FLSA, do not mandate double-time pay for employees. While employers have the discretion to set up double-time agreements if they wish, it is not obligatory under the law.

      What is working ‘off-the-clock’ in Georgia?

      Proper compensation for all work performed is a fundamental right for employees. Off-the-clock work occurs when employees carry out job duties outside of their official working hours, without receiving compensation. This extra work is known to the employer, however, is not included in the employee’s official workweek hours. This practice is often used by employers to avoid paying overtime, as the off-the-clock work frequently happens during times that should qualify as overtime. Examples of off-the-clock work include:

      • Working through designated meal or rest breaks.
      • Completing tasks before scheduled shifts.
      • Performing post-shift responsibilities such as cleaning or closing a job site.
      • Correcting mistakes or redoing projects outside of regular work hours.

      In Georgia, it is illegal for employers to require their employees to engage in off-the-clock work as it violates federal wage and hour laws, such as the FLSA, which governs overtime and regulations in the state.

      What are common ways employers avoid paying overtime in Georgia?

      Some employers may try to avoid providing proper compensation to their employees for work which should count as overtime. Common strategies used to not pay overtime include:

      • Requiring employees to perform ‘off-the-clock’ work: Employers may assign tasks such as prep work, answering phone calls, or completing post-shift duties outside of regular work hours without compensating the employees. However, this practice violates the law as employers are obligated to document all tasks performed by employees and provide appropriate compensation.
      • Averaging hours worked: This tactic is often seen among employees paid on a biweekly or bimonthly basis. For instance, if an employee works 49 hours one week, the employer might schedule them for only 31 hours the following week. Despite the employee being entitled to nine hours of overtime pay from the first week, averaging hours can make it seem like they worked two 40-hour weeks. In this way, the employer evades paying overtime, exploiting the employee.
      • Providing comp time: Employers may offer time-off to employees to prevent them from working overtime hours. For example, employees might be allowed to take Friday off if they worked a double shift on Thursday, ensuring their weekly hours do not exceed the 40-hour limit for regular pay.
      • Misclassifying workers as salaried employees: In Georgia, a salaried employee is exempt from paying overtime if they earn above $684 per week or $35,568 annually. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027. To avoid paying overtime rates, employers may misclassify employees earning below this threshold as salaried workers. This practice is illegal under federal laws.

      Can you work seven days in a row in Georgia?

      There are no state or federal laws which limit working hours or days in Georgia, therefore, employees over the age of 16 could work seven days in a row.

      However, some employees may work in regulated industries or have conditions in their contract or collective bargaining agreement which limit the number of days they can work in a row. Additionally, minors who are 14 or 15 years old can only work up to four hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours in a non-school week. This may limit the number of days in a row they are legally allowed to work.

      If a non-exempt employee is required to work seven consecutive days, they should keep track of their hours to ensure overtime pay is received for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      How many ten-hour days can you work in a row in Georgia?

      While some states have implemented a unique overtime rule permitting employees on an alternative four ten-hour shifts work schedule to receive overtime after ten hours on those days, Georgia has not adopted such a regulation. Additionally, there are no federal provisions authorizing this arrangement. In Georgia, working over 40 hours in a workweek would typically trigger overtime, unless the employee is exempt from overtime regulations.

      What are full-time hours in Georgia?

      According to the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as the health reform, and the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, full-time employment is considered to be at least 30 hours per week, or 130 hours per month, or the normal standard for working hours in a specific industry.

      How many hours straight can you legally work in Georgia?

      In Georgia, there are no laws restricting the hours of work for most employees, provided they are at least 16 years old. Technically, individuals could work up to 24 hours per day. However, certain circumstances limit the number of consecutive hours an employee can work:

      • Workers in regulated industries, such as those in transportation, often have a maximum number of hours they can work before time-off is required.
      • Employees with collective bargaining agreements or specific contracts may have limits to the number of hours per day permitted to work.
      • In Georgia, minors 14 or 15 years old can only work a maximum of four hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours on a non-school week. Moreover, the time of their shifts should fall between 06:00 and 21:00.

      Is overtime after eight hours or 40 hours in Georgia?

      Georgia does not have its own overtime law, it adheres to federal regulations, in particular the FLSA. As a result, there are no daily overtime rules like those in some other states whereby overtime is triggered after eight hours of work in a day. Instead, the FLSA establishes a weekly overtime rule, where non-exempt workers must receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.

      Does working on the weekend qualify for overtime pay in Georgia?

      In Georgia, working on the weekend does not automatically entitle an employee to overtime pay since the FLSA does not establish special rules for Saturdays, Sundays, nights, or holidays. Instead, the standard overtime rules apply every day of the week.

      If an eligible employee has already worked 40 hours in a workweek before the weekend begins, any hours worked during the weekend will count as overtime. Employers may set different workweeks for employees, so it is important to know this schedule to accurately calculate overtime earnings.

      How many hours-off between shifts is required in Georgia?

      Neither federal nor state laws in Georgia regulate the number of hours required between shifts. Consequently, employers are not legally obligated to give employees time-off between consecutive shifts.

      However, certain industries, like truck driving, may place limits on the number of hours employees can work in a day or between shifts. Additionally, workers covered by union agreements may have specific provisions in their collective bargaining agreements regarding time-off between shifts.

      What does ‘hours-worked’ include in Georgia?

      ‘Hours worked’ encompasses all the time an employee spends on duty or at a worksite, including any additional time they are required or allowed to work. Employees must be properly compensated for all hours worked. In certain cases, travel time, meal breaks, or rest breaks may also be considered part of hours worked:

      • Meal breaks: Meal breaks are not mandated by either state or federal law, although employers frequently provide them to employees during a full workday. Breaks lasting 30 minutes or more are not considered as hours worked unless the employee is required to stay on the premises or remain on duty during this time.
      • Rest breaks: Employees are not legally guaranteed rest periods during work shifts. However, short breaks ranging from five to 20 minutes are often provided. According to the FLSA, these short break periods must be considered as part of hours worked, and employees must be appropriately compensated for them.
      • Travel time: In Georgia, the time an employee spends commuting to and from their regular workplace is generally not considered part of their hours worked. However, under the FLSA, travel time is included if:
        • An employee is required to travel during regular working hours.
        • An employee is required to work during travel time.
        • An employee is required to travel on a 1-day assignment away from the official workplace.
        • An employee is required to travel on an overnight assignment away from the official workplace during hours on non-workdays that correspond to the regular working hours.

      What is the most hours a salaried employee can work in Georgia? 

      Georgia tends to follow federal employment and overtime regulations, which do not set a maximum limit on the number of hours a salaried employee can work per day or week. As a result, salaried employees are typically required to complete all assigned work as directed by their employer. Usually, working hours and expectations will be outlined in the employment contract and employers must stick to these terms.

      Non-exempt salaried workers are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 worked in a workweek. In contrast, exempt employees, those earning at least $35,568 annually, are not eligible for overtime compensation for hours exceeding this threshold.

      It is a good idea to maintain accurate records of your work hours. If, after calculating, you discover that you are earning less than the minimum wage per hour, you might have grounds to file a wage claim.

      What is the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work in Georgia?

      In Georgia, there are no state or federal laws that cap working hours, including overtime hours. This applies to hourly employees. Therefore, non-exempt hourly employees over 16 years old in Georgia can work up to any number of hours per day or week.

      However, some exceptions exist, particularly for individuals in regulated industries or covered by collective bargaining agreements, where daily hour limits may be enforced. Additionally, in Georgia, individuals aged 14 or 15 are subject to restrictions. They can only work up to four hours on a school day or eight hours on a non-school day.

      Although Georgia does not impose a limit on the maximum number of hours an individual can work, non-exempt hourly employees are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 in a workweek.

      Overtime Eligibility in Georgia

      Who is eligible for overtime pay in Georgia?

      Regarding overtime, employees are typically classified as either exempt or non-exempt. Non-exempt workers are eligible to receive overtime pay in Georgia, as long as they are at least 16 years old. Such workers are usually paid hourly and hold positions involving manual labor or customer service.

      Exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime in Georgia.

      Who is exempt from overtime pay in Georgia?

      In Georgia, overtime regulations are governed by the federal FLSA which outlines different categories of employees who are exempt from overtime laws and therefore do not receive overtime pay. Exempt employees typically hold “white-collar” positions in administrative, professional, or executive roles, or work as salespeople. Moreover, individuals in these occupations must meet specific criteria to be exempt from overtime, which are determined by the following three tests:

      1. The salary basis test: The employee must receive a fixed salary, irrespective of the hours worked or the quantity of work completed. Put differently, they must be categorized as salaried employees rather than hourly employees.
      2. The salary test: The employee must earn a salary that meets the minimum requirement of the exemption threshold, which is $684 per week or $35,568 annually in 2024. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027.
      3. The duties test: The employee’s responsibilities must primarily revolve around administrative, professional, or executive duties, involving the use of discretion and independent judgment.

      Several other job roles are categorized as exempt from overtime regulations, including:

      • Airline employees
      • Babysitters on a casual basis
      • Commissioned sales employees
      • Computer professionals
      • Drivers and loaders
      • Live-in domestic employees
      • Farmworkers employed on small farms
      • Federal criminal investigators
      • Fishermen
      • Outside sales employees
      • Railroad employees
      • Salesmen and mechanics
      • Switchboard operators
      • Taxicab drivers

      Further information on jobs which are categorised as exempt, as well as specific regulations that apply, can be found on the official US Department of Labor website.

      Can salaried employees get overtime pay in Georgia?

      Yes, salaried employees in Georgia may qualify to receive overtime pay if they satisfy specific criteria established by the federal FLSA. If salaried employees do not meet all three of the following criteria, they will be classified as non-exempt and therefore eligible to receive overtime pay:

      • Earn a minimum salary of $684 per week or $35,568 per year. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027.
      • Hold a professional, administrative, or executive position.
      • Perform tasks which use independent judgment and discretion.

      Overtime Payment Calculations in Georgia

      What is my regular rate of pay in Georgia?

      The regular rate of pay refers to the amount an employee earns for each hour worked, which must at least meet the minimum wage in Georgia. While determining the regular hourly rate is straightforward for hourly employees, as it corresponds to their normal hourly wage, it can be more complex to calculate for other types of employees and earnings:

      Salaried employees:

      • First, multiply the monthly salary by 12 to ascertain the annual salary.
      • Then, divide the annual salary by 52 (the total number of weeks in a year) to calculate the weekly salary.
      • Lastly, to find the regular hourly rate, divide the weekly salary by the maximum number of standard hours worked in a week (40 hours)

      Piecework or commission employees (three methods):

      • The rate of the piece or commission.
      • The amount earned in a workweek divided by the number of hours worked.
      • When working as part of a group, start by computing the group rate. This is achieved by dividing the total number of pieces by the number of individuals in the group. Then, multiply this rate by the number of hours worked by each individual to determine their regular rate of pay.

      How do you calculate overtime in Georgia?

      In Georgia, following federal laws, overtime compensation is set at 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate, often referred to as ‘time and a half’. Non-exempt employees qualify for overtime pay when their work exceeds 40 hours in a workweek.

      To calculate an employee’s overtime pay, follow these steps:

      1. Calculate the regular rate of pay for the employee.
      2. Multiply this regular rate by 1.5 to reach the hourly overtime rate.
      3. Finally, multiply the overtime rate by the number of overtime hours worked to determine the total amount of overtime pay owed to the employee.

      How is overtime taxed in Georgia?

      In Georgia, overtime earnings are subject to taxation at standard income rates. Your tax bracket, determined by your taxable income and filing status, dictates the amount of tax you owe.

      If overtime earnings substantially increase your overall income, you may find yourself in a higher tax bracket. Consequently, your entire income will be subject to higher taxes, not just your overtime pay. It is essential to understand that moving into a higher tax bracket is temporary and only impacts the specific pay period during which the additional income was earned.

      Receiving Overtime Payment in Georgia

      How is overtime paid in Georgia?

      In Georgia, overtime is compensated using the same method as regular wages, which can vary based on the preferences of employers or employees and the customary practices of a company. As per Georgia laws, employers must pay their employees using one of the following methods:

      • Check
      • Cash
      • Payroll card account
      • Direct deposit (if the employee consents to this method)

      When do I receive my overtime paycheck in Georgia?

      As overtime regulations in Georgia adhere to federal laws, the FLSA outlines paycheck requirements. Per the FLSA, employees in Georgia typically should receive overtime pay on their regular payday for the corresponding pay period in which the overtime wages were earned. In Georgia, most employees should be paid twice in a month with exceptions for those in the sawmill, farming and turpentine industries.

      Violations of Overtime Law in Georgia

      What if my employer refuses to pay me overtime in Georgia?

      In Georgia, if your employer has not paid part or all your earned overtime wages, they may be in violation of labor laws. The first step is to contact your employer to see if a mistake has been made, allowing the company to rectify this error.

      If the matter persists without resolution, employees in Georgia can pursue the following methods to recover missing overtime wages:

      • File a wage complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor (DOL). Georgia does not have a state enforcement process, so this is handled at the federal level.
      • File a civil lawsuit against your employer.

      In Georgia, you have a two-year window from the date of your employer’s FLSA violation (or the date you become aware of the violation) to initiate legal action or file a claim for unpaid wages. If your employer intentionally violated the law, you have up to three years to pursue a claim or lawsuit for your wages.

      What is the penalty for failing to pay overtime in Georgia?

      Georgia adheres to federal overtime regulations established by the FLSA. As per the US Department of Labor, employers found to wilfully or repeatedly violate the FLSA by neglecting to pay their employees their due overtime wages may incur a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation.

      Moreover, deliberate violations could result in criminal charges, with the employer facing fines of up to $10,000. Repeated violations may lead to imprisonment. A deliberate violation encompasses all employment actions conducted purposefully or knowingly, rather than accidentally or involuntarily.

      In addition to penalties, if an employer neglects to compensate you for your overtime work, you have the right to receive not only back wages (your unpaid earnings) but also liquidated damages. Liquidated damages equal the amount of the unpaid wages, effectively doubling the total compensation you receive for your initially unpaid overtime earnings.

      How can I file a wage claim for overtime in Georgia?

      In Georgia, an employee or former employee has the option to submit a wage claim to recover unpaid overtime wages. However, this claim must be filed with the US Department of Labor (DOL) since Georgia lacks its own state enforcement process. The initial steps of the claim process are as follows:

      1. Collect as much information and evidence as you can, as it is crucial for a successful claim.
      2. Reach out to the DOL by completing an online form, or contacting the helpline at 1-866-487-9243.
      3. After establishing initial contact, the DOL representative assigned to your case will work with you to determine the most effective course of action.

      Can employers retaliate against employees for making a wage claim in Georgia?

      In Georgia, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees or former employees for filing or threatening to file a wage claim. According to the federal FLSA, it is illegal for any individual to ‘discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint’.

      Should an employee face any form of retaliation, such as termination or demotion, as a result of filing a claim or participating in an investigation, they have the legal right to lodge a retaliation complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL. Alternatively, they have the option to independently pursue legal action to secure reinstatement, recover lost wages, and seek liquidated damages.

      Learn more about Georgia Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

      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.