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
Georgia Labor Laws Guide

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:

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):

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.

Track Georgia overtime with Clockify

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:

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

To calculate your fluctuating workweek overtime pay hassle-free, we’ve provided a free calculator for your convenience → Fluctuating Workweek Calculator  Fluctuating Workweek Calculator

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 :

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:

Annual leave

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:

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 leave 

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. 

Voting leave 

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. 

Military leave 

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. 

Bereavement leave 

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:

Federal time restrictions for youth 16–17 years of age:

Federal time restrictions for youth 14–15 years of age:

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.

For the extensive list of prohibited occupations, go to → Georgia prohibited occupations for minors 

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: 

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. 

To find out more information about expunging a criminal record, go to → Georgia.gov

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:

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.

In case you haven’t received your final paycheck even then — contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division 

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:

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. 

To learn more about penalties under OSHA, visit → OSHA penalties for employers Visit this website to find the nearest OSHA office → OSHA offices in Georgia

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: 

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:

Georgia recordkeeping laws

Specifically, under Georgia law, each employing unit must maintain the following records for a period of 4 years:

Conclusion/Disclaimer

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.