In Georgia, salaried employees are individuals who receive a predetermined fixed amount of compensation at regular intervals, such as weekly or less frequently.
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the applicable laws and regulations governing the rights and obligations of both salaried employees and their employers in Georgia. It will cover various topics, including payment, break and leave entitlements, as well as the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees.
This article covers:
- Payment of Wages for Salaried Employees in Georgia
- Salaried Employees Eligibility for Overtime for Georgia
- Exceptions to Overtime Exemptions for Georgia Salaried Employees
- Time Tracking of Salaried Employees Hours in Georgia
- Violation of Salaried Employees Wages Payment in Georgia
- Leave Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Georgia
- Break Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Georgia
- Deductions from Exempt Employees’ Salary in Georgia
- Termination of Employment for Salaried Employees in Georgia
The majority of workers in Georgia receive their pay twice a month.
However, there are certain exceptions to this including employees in farming, sawmill, and turpentine industries. Further, those in positions of authority with fixed salaries may be paid monthly or annually.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), salaried employees can be eligible for overtime pay, which is mandated by federal laws for working beyond 40 hours per week.
Employees earning a yearly salary of $35,568 or less qualify for overtime compensation, while exempt employees do not. Weekends do not automatically trigger overtime pay under the FLSA.
Employers typically pay overtime at 1.5 times the regular pay rate, but they can also use the fluctuating workweek method (FWW) to calculate overtime pay. The Department of Labor (DOL) website outlines the requirements and guidelines for using FWW to determine an employee’s overtime pay.
Although the majority of salaried employees fall under the exempt category, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), making them ineligible for overtime pay, overtime exceptions are not strictly related to salary requirements.
To be classified as an exempt employee, certain criteria must be met:
- The employee must receive a fixed wage, regardless of the number of hours worked.
- The employee’s salary should be at least $35,568 yearly or $684 weekly. 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.
- The employee must fulfill the duties test. The duties test assesses whether an employee qualifies for exempt status. The FLSA outlines seven categories of employees eligible for exemption, including Executive, Administrative, Creative Professional, Learned Professional, Outside Sales, Computer Sales, and Highly Compensated employees. Each category has specific duty requirements provided by the Department of Labor (DOL). However, this exemption does not apply to blue-collar workers or emergency responders.
Georgia is among the states that provide the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW) for salaried employees with variable schedules. Under this method, these employees can receive overtime pay at one-half times their regular hourly rate. Those using the FWW Method are exempt from standard overtime pay regulations.
Learn more in detail about Georgia Overtime Laws.
Salaried employees receive a consistent salary, irrespective of their working hours, which frees them from the need to monitor work hours and permits them to concentrate on tasks within reasonable timeframes. Nonetheless, keeping records and timesheets of hours can be beneficial in scenarios such as unplanned leaves, vacations, holidays, and sick days.
Moreover, staying informed about payroll schedules and ensuring compliance with overtime hours (if applicable based on company policies) can be of importance. Although it is not mandatory, these records provide valuable information for salaried employees regarding tracking time off and compensation.
Learn more about US salaried and hourly employees’ time tracking.
Georgia employers who violate wage regulations may be liable to pay not only the owed wages but also liquidated damages. Liquidated damages aim to compensate employees for additional financial losses that are challenging to quantify, such as fees for bounced checks or late charges.
If an employee succeeds in court or an administrative hearing, they can be awarded liquidated damages equal to the unpaid wages owed. For instance, if an employer failed to pay $1,200 in overtime, the employee would be entitled to an additional $1,200 in liquidated damages, totaling $2,400.
To address unpaid wages, an employee can either file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor or initiate a lawsuit. Georgia does not have a separate state enforcement process. The Wage and Hour Division may investigate the complaint and take action, which can involve supervising the payment of owed wages, settling the claim with the employer, or in rare cases, filing a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf.
In Georgia, salaried employees are entitled to various types of leave. Full-time public employees receive 15 days (3 weeks) of sick leave, with a maximum accrual of 90 days (720 hours).
State employers must provide 12 paid holidays annually, and employees required to work on a state holiday should receive an alternative day off. Annual leave is available and accrues based on years of service, ranging from 15 days per year for the first 5 years to 21 days per year after 10 years of service, with a maximum accrual of 45 days (360 hours).
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows qualifying employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for various reasons, while jury duty leave is required by law.
Voting leave of 2 hours is also provided for all workers in Georgia during elections. Military leave allows employees to take paid or unpaid leave for up to five years for military service and up to six months for training during a four-year period.
In Georgia, a 15-minute break is not required by federal or state law to provide as breaks and meal periods are not mandatory.
However, some companies may choose to offer breaks to improve productivity and boost employee morale. Breaks lasting between 5 to 20 minutes are considered compensable, meaning the employees are paid for that time.
On the other hand, breaks exceeding 30 minutes are typically unpaid. If an employee is required to work during a 30-minute break, such as a factory operative who needs to remain near a machine, the break should be paid.
The law prohibits employers in Georgia from making deductions from a salaried employee’s pay based on the quantity or quality of work. If the employee is available to work but does not work the full 40 hours, they should still receive their full week’s compensation.
However, employers can only deduct an employee’s pay in the following situations:
- When the employee is absent from work for one or more full days due to personal reasons other than sickness or disability.
- When the employee is absent from work for one or more full days due to sickness or disability, provided the employer has a bona fide leave plan.
- To offset amounts received by employees as jury or witness fees or for military pay.
- For penalties imposed in good faith for significant safety rule violations.
- For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for violations of workplace conduct rules.
Georgia employers can end employment without providing a reason, except if it involves discrimination or retaliation. Likewise, employees have the freedom to resign from their jobs without facing any penalties. However, if an employee’s wages are being garnished, termination is not allowed.
While Georgia employers are not obligated to give final paychecks immediately upon termination, they must adhere to federal regulations and provide it on the next scheduled payday.
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.