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Georgia PTO Laws: A Comprehensive Guide on Georgia Paid Time-off Laws

Georgia Paid Time Off (PTO) laws are essential for employers to ensure compliance with state laws. The state has no laws that mandate employers to have paid time off. Awareness of the various paid time off laws in Georgia impacts employers and employees in the state.

As an employer in Georgia, you must know the various PTO policies. It is essential to ensure that workers have the opportunity to take time off for multiple reasons while maintaining job security and income stability.

Here, we detail Georgia’s PTO laws, including the different types of leaves, accrual systems, payment upon termination, and more.

Georgia does not have specific state laws that mandate employers to provide paid or unpaid time off to employees. Here, we take a closer look at the provision of various types of leave and whether state laws exist or policies that individual employers typically determine based on their company policies and practices.

1. Sick leave

Employers are not mandated in Georgia to provide employees sick or unpaid sick leave. Employers have the flexibility to provide sick leave as a benefit to employees. They can determine the terms of such leave; however, if they offer sick leave, all the provisions must be outlined in the company’s policies or employment agreements.

However, all employers must adhere to the Georgia Family Care Act. If an employer provides sick leaves, the Georgia Family Care Act requires that if the business has at least 25 employees, the company should allow employees to take up to 5 sick leave days to care for their family members if they are ill.

To be eligible for such time off, an employee should work at least 30 hours a week.

2. Vacation leave

Georgia is one of the states that doesn’t mandate employers to offer vacation days to employees. No state laws exist, so all private employers can create their policies and determine the rules regarding accrual rates, eligibility, and usage.

To ensure compliance and transparency, employers must provide access through employee contracts, handbooks, and other documentation. Employees should refer to their employer’s policies to understand their entitlements regarding vacation leave.

3. Bereavement Leave

Georgia also does not have specific state laws requiring employers to provide employees bereavement leave. Also known as funeral leave, bereavement leave is provided by employers to allow employees to take time off following the death of a family member or loved one.

Again, in the absence of state laws regarding bereavement leave, it’s at the employer’s discretion to choose the policies if they offer bereavement leave. Typically, it is mandatory to outline the terms and conditions in their company policies.

4. Jury duty leave

Jury duty leave is mandated by federal law, and Georgia employers must allow employees summoned for jury duty time off. Employers are, however, not required to pay employees for jury duty leave.

However, in 1989, an attorney general issued an opinion allowing employees in Georgia to sue employers if they were not paid wages during jury duty. However, till now, there have been no cases where this opinion is backed up in any court. Counties have provided instructions regarding the same to jurors.

Employees can fulfill their civic duty as jurors without fear of retaliation or adverse employment consequences. No employer can stop employees from taking the necessary time off for jury duty service.

5. Military leave

By federal law, Georgia law provides job protection and specific benefits to employees who are members of the National Guard or reserves and are called to active duty or military training.

Georgia does not have specific state laws governing these types of leave; it sticks with the federal law of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) that provides additional protections and rights for employees in certain situations. Under USERRA, any member of a military organization can take time off to serve in an active mission.

Employers must comply with these provisions and grant military leave as the law requires. Employers and employees in Georgia should be aware of federal and company-specific policies regarding leave entitlements and responsibilities.

6. Voting leave

In Georgia, like in other states, employers must allow employees paid time off to take two hours off from work when there are federal, state, or local elections. It also applies if employees need more time to vote outside working hours.

However, employers can decide when employees get time off to vote, and employees must request this leave in advance. No employer can deduct pay from employees who take voting leave as required by law as long as they take only two hours off.

7. Holiday leave

There is no provision that employers in Georgia should provide paid or unpaid holiday leave to employees. Individual employers can recognize holidays and provide paid time off on holidays. However, most employers observe the common holidays in Georgia, such as New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Georgia generally observes 13 state holidays:

Holiday

General Date

New Year’s Day 2024

January 1

Martin Luther King, Jr.

3rd Monday in January

Good Friday

2 days before Easter

Memorial Day

Last Monday in May

Juneteenth

June 19

Independence Day

July 4

Labor Day

1st Monday in September

Columbus Day

2nd Monday in October

Veterans Day

November 11

Thanksgiving Day

4th Thursday of November

State Holiday

Day after Thanksgiving

Washington’s Birthday 

3rd Monday in February

Christmas Day

December 25

8. Maternity, Paternity, and FMLA

Georgia follows the federal Family and Maternity Leave Act (FMLA) that provides eligible employees unpaid leave and job protection for specific family and medical reasons, including maternity and paternity requirements.

Under FMLA, all eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave in 12 months. This leave is for both mothers and fathers for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child. Also, they can take leave for the employee’s serious health condition or a close family member.

Maternity and paternity leave must be part of the benefits so the employees can take time off to bond with a new child or address medical needs while preserving their job security.

9. Family and Medical Leave

As mentioned above, all family and medical leave requirements are governed by FMLA, as Georgia has no state laws regarding these leaves.

In addition to maternity and paternity leave, FMLA allows employees in Georgia to take unpaid leave to attend to family members with severe health conditions, recover from a serious health condition themselves, or address specific military family needs, such as caregiving and exigency leave.

What is the accrual vacation system of employers in Georgia PTO laws?

As Georgia has no state laws to govern vacation time, employers have complete discretion to create policies regarding accrual vacation systems for their employees.

Employers must provide information to employees on how accrual rates will work. It determines how quickly employees accrue vacation leave, often based on factors such as an employee’s length of service, job position, or company policy.

Employers should also set caps so employees only accrue a few vacation days. Once employees reach this cap, they may stop accruing additional vacation time until they use some accrued days.

Policies regarding how the employees can request and use their accrued vacation leave, carry-over or forfeiture of unused vacation days, and pay out of accrued, unused vacation upon termination should also be shared with employees.

What happens to rollover (carry over, brought forward) leaves?

Georgia doesn’t prohibit the use it or lose it policy. Employers have the discretion to decide how rollover or carry-over leaves are treated. If the employer permits employees to carry over unused vacation days from one year to the next, clear guidelines must be provided.

Employers can have a “use it or lose it” policy, which means that employees must use their accrued vacation days within a specified timeframe, typically during the calendar year. Any unused days at the end of this period are forfeited and not carried over into the next year. 

However, employers are not recommended to implement this policy as it can feel discriminatory. Instead, control the number of rollovers by capping the total number of PTO days. Employers can allow a limited number of vacation days to be carried over while imposing a cap on the maximum number of days that can be accumulated.

Payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination

Georgia PTO laws do not state that employers have to pay for unused vacation days at the end of the year instead or when an employee is terminated. Whether employees are paid for unused vacation time when they resign or are terminated depends on company policies.

The employer’s policies and employment agreements typically determine the payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination in Georgia.

Statutory provisions addressing vacation pay

Georgia has no statutory provisions for vacation day payout. How the payout, if allowed, is handled depends on individual employers. Therefore, employees should carefully read company policies on payment for accrued, unused vacation days if an employee’s employment is terminated due to resignation, retirement, or other reasons.

How is payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination made by the employer?

The employer typically decides the payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination. Suppose the policies allow payment for accrued, unused vacation. In that case, the employee is entitled to receive the payout within 14 days when they are terminated, whether due to resignation, retirement, or other reasons.

The payment for unused vacation time is typically included in the final paycheck. It can be made through a physical check, direct deposit, or other electronic payment methods, depending on the employer’s payroll processes and the employee’s preferences.

What does the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act say about Georgia's paid time-off laws?

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) mandates that employers with 50 or more workers for 20 weeks in a year follow the FMLA guidelines for paid time off. Under FMLA, eligible employees in Georgia can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for 12 months. To be eligible, they must have worked at least 1,250 hours in 12 months.

Qualifying FMLA-eligible events when an employee can avail of paid time off include:

  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • To bond with a new child
  • The care of a seriously ill family member
  • An employee’s serious health condition
  • To take care of a family member who has suffered seriously in military service

Limiting and Capping Vacation Hours in Georgia

Georgia PTO laws are nonexistent regarding limiting and capping vacation hours. Employers determine limits on the number of vacation hours an employee can accrue or use. The caps are established to prevent employees from accumulating excessive unused vacation days.

Once employees reach the maximum accrual limit, they may stop accruing additional vacation hours until they use some of their accrued time.

Furthermore, Georgia allows use-it-or-lose-it policies that require employees to use their accrued vacation days within a specified period. Any unused vacation hours at the end of a year are forfeited and do not carry over into the following year.

Georgia State Holidays for 2024

Holiday

Date

New Year’s Day 2024

Monday, January 1

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 15

Good Friday

Friday, March 29

Memorial Day

Monday, May 27

Juneteenth

Wednesday, June 19

Independence Day

Thursday, July 4

Labor Day

Monday, September 2

Columbus Day

Monday, October 14

Veterans Day

Monday, November 11

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 28

State Holiday

Friday, November 29

Washington’s Birthday 

Tuesday, December 24

Christmas Day

Wednesday, Dec. 25

How can Truein help with Paid time-off management?

Truein is an innovative time and attendance management software solution that can significantly assist organizations with paid time off (PTO) management. It offers a range of features that streamline PTO-related processes and improve efficiency.

Truein can entirely automate the time-off request process. It allows employees to submit leave requests electronically through the mobile app. Managers are instantly notified, ensuring that leave requests are routed to the appropriate managers or supervisors for review and approval.

With its time and attendance tracking, accrued PTO for each employee based on company policies can be accurately tracked and monitored. This ensures accuracy and helps employees and managers stay informed about available leave balances.

Therefore, Truein offers a comprehensive solution for PTO management that enhances efficiency, compliance, and employee satisfaction. Learn more here.

Conclusion

This comprehensive guide on Georgia PTO laws is essential for employers and employees to ensure compliance with legal requirements and know their rights. Employers must communicate the company leave policies clearly, while employees should be aware of their entitlements under state and federal regulations.

Truein can make PTO management more efficient and user-friendly, benefiting employers and employees.

FAQs

1. Are independent contractors covered under Georgia employment laws?

Generally, independent contractors are exempt from the same legal protections and benefits as employees under Georgia employment laws.

They are considered self-employed individuals and are not entitled to the same minimum wages or leave benefits. But it also depends on individual employer policies.

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