Georgia Labor Laws Guide
Ultimate Georgia labor law guide: minimum wage, overtime, break, leave, hiring, termination, and miscellaneous labor laws.
|Georgia Labor Laws FAQ|
|Georgia minimum wage||$5.15 or $7.25|
|Georgia overtime||1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($7.72 or $10.87 for minimum wage workers)
|Georgia breaks||Breaks not required by law|
Table of contents
Georgia wage laws
With regard to wage laws in Georgia — both state and federal laws overlap.
The following are the regulations concerning the state minimum, tipped hourly wage, and the youth minimum wage in Georgia.
|GEORGIA MINIMUM WAGE|
|Regular minimum wage||Tipped minimum wage||Subminimum wage|
|$5.15 or $7.25||$2.13||$4.25|
Georgia minimum wage
What is Georgia's minimum wage 2022?
The state minimum wage for Georgia workers is — $5.15 per hour.
As you'll notice, the state minimum is lesser than the federal $7.25.
However, the Georgia state minimum doesn't apply to any employment that is subject to the federal minimum wage.
The federal minimum of $7.25 applies to:
- Employers who have 5 employees or less.
- Employers who have sales of $40,000.00 per year or less.
- Employers who employ domestic workers.
- Farm owners, sharecroppers, or land renters.
- Tipped employees.
- Employees who are high school or college students.
- Newspaper carriers.
- Employees who work in nonprofit child-caring institutions or facilities serving children or mentally disabled adults who also reside within the institutions.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), if an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws — the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage rate.
Exceptions to the minimum wage in Georgia
The Fair Labor Standards Act proposes that certain employees are exempt from the minimum wage.
The following is the list of employees who are exempt from the minimum wage (together with certain requirements):
- Executive workers who are paid on a salary basis and earn not less than $684 per week.
- Administrative workers who are paid on a salary basis and earn not less than $684 per week.
- Learned and creative professionals paid on a salary basis who earn not less than $684 per week.
- Computer employees who earn $684 per week or at least $27.63 per hour.
- Highly compensated employees who earn $107,432 or more a year.
- Outside sales employees — There is no minimum salary requirement for such employees.
- Tipped employees
Tipped minimum wage in Georgia
What is Georgia's minimum wage for tipped employees 2022?
Tipped employees in Georgia are exempt from the state minimum wage of $5.15 per hour as stated above. Therefore, federal regulations apply to employees who receive a substantial portion of their compensation from tips — $2.13 per hour.
However, a tipped worker's hourly earnings must at least equal to or exceed the federal minimum of $7.25. If a tipped employee doesn't earn $7.25 per hour, the employer needs to make up the difference.
Georgia subminimum wage
What is Georgia's youth minimum wage 2022?
According to federal law, employers in Georgia can pay employees under 20 years of age a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment.
After that period (or if the employee turns 20), the employee is entitled to the federal minimum of $7.25.
However, full-time students are entitled to 85% of the minimum wage provided that they work in retail, agriculture, or colleges and universities.
Employers are required to obtain a working certificate if they wish to employ a full-time student. Also, employers must be aware of the working hours when hiring a full-time student. Specifically, a full-time student can work up to 20 hours weekly (8 hours a day) when school is in session and a maximum of 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
Georgia payment laws
The majority of the employees in Georgia are paid semi-monthly or twice a month.
However, this rule doesn't apply to farming, sawmill, and turpentine industries, officials, superintendents, or other heads or subheads who are employed at stipulated salaries. Such industries are paid monthly or even yearly.
Georgia overtime laws
Since Georgia doesn't have any state labor laws specific to overtime pay — the federal provisions apply instead.
Therefore, unless exempted, employees who work more than 40 hours per week are entitled to an overtime rate of one and a half (1.5) times their regular pay rate.
The FLSA doesn't require overtime pay for work on the weekend, holidays, or any other regular days of rest.
Overtime exceptions and exemptions in Georgia
As of January 1, 2020, the US Department of Labor raised the salary cut-off from $455 to $684 weekly (equivalent to $35,568 annually). What's more, the salary threshold for highly compensated employees was also raised from $100,000 to $107,432 annually.
The FLSA exempts the following employees from overtime pay:
- Executive employees who earn a salary and make not less than $684 per week.
- Administrative employees who earn a salary and make not less than $684 per week.
- Highly compensated employees who make more than $107,432 a year.
- Learned and creative professionals who receive a salary and earn not less than $684 per week.
- Computer employees who work on a salary basis and earn no less than $684 weekly.
- Outside sales employees.
The exemptions don't apply to “blue-collar” workers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, rescue workers, and similar community workers.
Also, said overtime rules don't apply to the employees who work varying schedules, i.e., use the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW).
Finally, the FLSA doesn't limit the number of overtime hours in a week as long as the employee is at least 16 years of age.
Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW) in Georgia
Georgia is one of the many states that offers its salaried workers an alternative work schedule — the Fluctuating Workweek Method, also known as the Chinese overtime.
This work schedule allows salaried employees to receive an overtime premium of one-half (0.5) times their regular hourly pay.
The emphasis is on salaried workers whose workweek fluctuates from time to time. If a salaried worker sometimes works, for instance, 35 or 40 hours a week and receives the same salary — their workweek is fluctuating.
But, if they worked, let's say, 46 hours the preceding week — they are entitled to overtime pay of one-half times their regular hourly pay rate for each extra hour worked.
Let's calculate overtime compensation for such a week. To do so, we need to calculate the hourly pay first.
Let's say an employee's weekly income is $900 a week and in the preceding week the employee worked 46 hours.
$900 / 46 = $20 per hour
Therefore, the overtime compensation per hour in this case is →
$20 per hour x 0.5 = $10 for each overtime hour worked
Total overtime compensation during that week →
$10 x 6 overtime hours = $60
Georgia break laws
Are 15-minute breaks required by law in Georgia?
No. Under federal law and Georgia law, employers are not liable for providing their employees with breaks or meal periods.
Exceptions to break laws in Georgia
Anyhow, many employers do provide breaks to increase their employees' productivity and boost their morale. Thus, any break of duration from 5 to 20 minutes is considered compensable while breaks or meal periods longer than 30 minutes are not paid. Still, if a worker needs to work during lunchtime (i.e., 30-minute break) — for example, a factory worker who is required to remain at his machine while working — then a meal break needs to be paid.
Georgia breastfeeding laws
As of August 5, 2020, under a new breastfeeding law called Charlotte's law, private employers must provide breastfeeding mothers reasonable paid time to express milk at work.
That break must be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay.
As stated in the previous federal law, mothers also must be provided with a separate room to pump milk — other than a bathroom.
Georgia leave requirements
According to federal law, an employer is not obliged to pay for any time not worked. However, most employers do provide time off to their employees — whether paid or unpaid. You'll also see that regulations for public and private employers differ in some cases.
In the state of Georgia, there are two types of leave days :
- Required leave
- Non-required leave
Georgia required leave
Please take a look at the leave days that employers in Georgia are required to assign to their employees.
Sick leave (public employers)
Under Georgia law, full-time public employees are entitled to 15 days (3 weeks) of sick leave. However, one can't earn more than 3 weeks of sick leave during their time of employment. Also, an employee can only save up to 90 days (720 hours) of sick leave since anything over 90 days is forfeited.
Holiday leave (public employers)
A state employer must grant their employees 12 paid holidays within a year. During these holidays, all state offices must be closed. If for any reason, an employee must work on a state holiday, he or she must be granted another day off. If a holiday falls on a rest day, it shall be observed on a specifically defined day.
The following is the list of state holidays for the year 2022 when the state offices must be closed:
- New Year's Day — January 1, 2022
- State Holiday — January 19, 2022
- Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday — January 17, 2022
- Washington's Birthday — February 21, 2022
- State Holiday — April 25, 2022
- Memorial Day — May 30, 2022
- Juneteenth — June 19, 2022
- Independence Day — July 4, 2022
- Labor Day — September 5, 2022
- Columbus Day — October 10, 2022
- Veterans Day — November 11, 2022
- Thanksgiving Day — November 24, 2022
- Christmas Day — December 25, 2022
Employees in Georgia are entitled to annual leave which they can use for vacation or any other occasion to take time off.
Accrual of paid leave increases with the years of service and employees get:
- 15 days per year/10 hours per month for the first 5 years of service
- 18 days per year/12 hours per month during the next 5 years of service
- 21 days per year/14 hours per month after 10 years of service
Bear in mind that one can only accrue 45 days (360 hours) of annual leave since anything above is forfeited.
Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that offers eligible employees an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 workweeks annually. This benefit can be used in the case of a serious disease or illness of an employee or his/her family member, for the birth and care of a newborn baby, etc.
Concerning Georgia, eligible employees need to be employed by the state for at least 12 months (or 1,250 hours) to qualify for FMLA benefits.
Jury duty is a civic responsibility for all citizens in Georgia. Therefore, employers in Georgia are required to grant employees time off (paid or unpaid) to attend jury duty.
Every employee in the state of Georgia must be permitted to vote in any municipal, country, state, or similar election. On that account, an employer must grant 2 hours of time off — paid or unpaid — to any employee who wishes to vote on the day of the election.
An employee who leaves a job position to perform military service — federal or state — is entitled to paid or unpaid leave of up to five years. Also, an employee can receive leave benefits to attend training of up to 6 months within a four-year period.
Georgia non-required leave
There are cases when an employer is not obligated to assign leave days to their employees. This non-required leave includes the following instances:
Sick leave (private employers)
A private employer is not required to provide their employees with paid or unpaid sick leave.
Holiday leave (private employer)
A private employer doesn't need to provide employees with holiday leave — paid or unpaid. Also, an employer can require employees to work on a holiday without receiving any premium pay or whatsoever.
This type of leave is taken when there has been a death inside a family. There is no explicit law regarding bereavement leave in Georgia. Thus, it depends on the company's policies and rules.
Child labor laws in Georgia
The child labor laws in Georgia protect minors from any physical, moral, or emotional hazard. Georgia has both state and federal labor laws regulating the working conditions of minors depending on their age.
Work time restrictions for Georgia minors
How many hours can a minor work in the state of Georgia?
Georgia time restrictions for minors under the age of 16:
- May work for 4 hours on a school day
- May work for 8 hours on a non-school day
- May work 40 hours when school is not in session
- No work before 6 a.m
- No work after 9 p.m
- No work during school hours unless they have completed senior high school or have been excused by a county or independent school system board of education
Federal time restrictions for youth 16–17 years of age:
- May work for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those stated hazardous by the Secretary of Labor
Federal time restrictions for youth 14–15 years of age:
- May work no more than 3 hours on a school day
- No more than 8 hours on a nonschool day
- Up to 18 hours during a school week when school is in session
- Up to 40 hours during a school week when school is not in session
- No work during school hours
- No work before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. (except between June 1 and Labor day — no work after 9 p.m.)
Employment of minors 12 and 13 years of age and younger
A minor aged at least 12 but less than 16 years of age must obtain an employment certificate issued by the school administration to be able to work. Also, minors under 12 years of age are not allowed to work in any gainful occupation and get a regular hourly wage. But they are allowed to work junior jobs such as cutting the lawn, shoveling snow for neighbors, helping around the house for an allowance, and similar.
Breaks for Georgia minors
All minors in Georgia are entitled to a 1-hour meal break or 30-minute meal break and additional 30 minutes for rest or recreation.
Prohibited occupations for Georgia minors
No minor under the age of 16 years can be employed in occupations connected with power-driven machinery, butchering, scaffolding, loading and unloading goods, or any other occupation that may cause temporary or permanent injuries and illnesses.
Working near alcoholic beverages
Minors under 18 years of age are not allowed to serve, sell, dispense, or take orders for any alcoholic beverages.
However, minors under 18 years of age are allowed to work in supermarkets, convenience stores, breweries, or drugstores considering that the alcoholic beverages bought there are consumed off the premises.
Time of inspection and pertinent records
The Commissioner of Labor or the Commissioner's designee may enter and inspect the premises at a reasonable time where minors are employed. In addition, employers who employ minors must keep necessary work certificates and pertinent records at the premises for the duration of the employee's employment. Pertinent records refer to records that evidence the working hours of an employed minor.
Penalties for employers
Anyone who violates any of the child labor provisions stated above will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Georgia hiring laws
Georgia uses both federal and state laws to ensure equal opportunity for all individuals. The following are some of the most critical laws — federal and state — that Georgian employers should comply with during recruitment.
Federal employment-related laws
Employers in Georgia must comply with federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to avoid any type of workplace discrimination.
With regard to hiring new employees, the following acts apply:
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people 40 years of age and older. Under this act, it is considered unlawful to fail or refuse to hire a job applicant because of age. It's unlawful to limit, segregate, or classify in any way that can deprive a job applicant of employment opportunities.
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) protects job applicants from discrimination based on genetic information. The term “genetic information” denotes information about a person's health and well-being. It's unlawful to limit, segregate, or deprive any job applicant of employment opportunities because of genetic information.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal anti-discrimination law for employment. Makes it unlawful for employers to deprive someone of employment opportunities because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
State employment-related laws
Concerning state laws, the most prominent ones refer to employee background checks. To ensure that employers make a sound hiring decision, they hire third parties to conduct background checks on job applicants.
- OCGA § 35-3-34 — The Georgia Crime Information Center is a third party authorized to provide private individuals and businesses with criminal history records of a job applicant in question. To do so, private individuals or businesses must submit the fingerprints of such an individual or a signed consent of that person. However, the center shall not disclose records of arrest or charges that didn't result in a conviction. Under this statute, if an employer makes an employment decision that negatively affects the job applicant or employee — that employer will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
- “Ban the Box” — This is a policy that protects applicants with criminal records from discrimination during hiring processes. It increases job opportunities for people with criminal records within state employment offices. It bans the employer from asking questions about the job applicant's criminal record during the initial stage of the hiring process.
- Expungements — An individual with a criminal record can still apply for certain jobs and licenses without having to disclose their records. They can apply to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Georgia Crime Information Center to request for record restriction.
Right to work law in Georgia
A “right-to-work” state is a state where employees have the right to choose whether or not to join a labor union. Under this law, no one can require an employee to join a labor union to get or keep a job. Georgia adopted a right-to-work statute in 1947.
Any labor organization, labor union, employer, corporation, or association in Georgia is not allowed to:
- Force an employee to join or refrain from joining any labor organization as a condition of employment.
- Force an employee to strike or refrain from striking in order to get employment.
- Require any type of payment, fee, or other sum of money as a condition of employment.
- Deduct from employee's wages or other earnings to be paid over to a labor organization.
Any person who violates any provision stated in this law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Georgia termination laws
Georgia is another “employment-at-will” state. This means that an employer has the right to terminate employment at any time for any reason — provided that it's not based on discrimination, retaliation, and similar. Also, an employee may choose to leave their job at any time for any reason without any losses, damages, penalties, and similar.
However, under Georgia law, an employer may not discharge an employee if his or her earnings are subject to garnishment (e.g. unpaid taxes, overdue child support, student loan, and similar).
Georgia final paycheck
Since Georgia doesn't regulate when an employer must pay the final payment to the employee — the federal law applies instead. Under federal law, employers are not required to give former employees their last paycheck at the time of employment termination. Therefore, employers may give the final paycheck on the next scheduled payroll day.
Health insurance continuation in Georgia (COBRA)
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), employees who have been terminated from a job — whether voluntarily or involuntarily — are entitled to a temporary extension of health benefits. On that account, eligible employees can extend their health coverage for another 18 to 36 months. However, this act only applies to businesses with more than 20 employees.
Occupational safety in Georgia
For the sake of the welfare and safety of the workers — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) steps in. The OSHA Act is a federal law that covers most private employers and their workers. It sets standards and makes sure that employees work in a safe and healthful environment.
Under OSHA, the hazards are grouped as follows:
- Biological hazards — Mold, pests, insects, etc.
- Chemical and dust hazards — Pesticides, asbestos, etc.
- Work organization hazards — Things that cause stress.
- Safety hazards — Slips, trips, falls, etc.
- Physical hazards — Noise, radiation, temperature extremes, etc.
- Ergonomic hazards — Repetition, lifting, awkward postures, etc.
The authorities are entitled to enter and inspect the premises during working hours to ensure that OSHA standards are followed as stated in this act. If an employer fails to obey the rules, a civil penalty of not more than $70,000 but not less than $5,000 for each violation may be imposed.
Miscellaneous Georgia labor laws
Certain labor laws don't belong to any specific group above, so we've decided to place them in the miscellaneous section.
The most significant include:
- Whistleblower laws
- Record keeping laws
Georgia Whistleblower Protection Act
Under Georgia law, a public employer (or any local or regional governmental entity receiving funds from the state of Georgia) is obliged to investigate complaints or information from a public employee that contain any fraudulent behavior, abuse at work, or waste under the supervision of such employer.
Furthermore, the employer is not allowed to disclose the identity of the public employee who “blew the whistle” unless the employer thinks it is necessary during the investigation. In that case, the employee must be notified in writing at least 7 days prior to disclosure of information.
No employer is allowed to prevent a public employee from disclosing a violation or take any forbidden actions — retaliation — against such employee for making a disclosure in the public interest.
If a public employee experiences any type of discrimination, the court may order:
- Placing the employee to the same position before the retaliation or to a similar position.
- Granting fringe benefits to the employee (e.g., vacation pay, personal use of a company-owned vehicle, pension plan, etc.)
- Compensation for any lost wages, attorney's fees, benefits, and similar.
Georgia recordkeeping laws
Specifically, under Georgia law, each employing unit must maintain the following records for a period of 4 years:
- Social Security Number
- Date on which the employee was hired and where the services were performed
- Employee's residential address
- Wages paid for services performed together with dates of payment
- Traveling reimbursements or other business expenses together with the dates of payment
- Working hours
- Dates of pay periods
- Total amount of wages paid in each quarter for the services provided
- Earnings by pay-periods
- Leave days
We hope this Georgia labor law guide has been helpful. We once again remind you to make sure you've paid attention to the links we've provided, as most of them will lead you to the official government websites and other relevant information.
Please note that this guide was written in Q1 2022, so any changes in the labor laws that were included later than that may not be included in this Georgia labor laws guide.
We strongly advise you to consult with the appropriate institutions and/or certified representatives before acting on any legal matters.
Clockify is not responsible for any losses or risks incurred, should this guide be used without further guidance from legal or tax advisors.
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