The Georgia employment
The Georgia labor laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
Georgia does not have any laws regarding paying employees a lesser rate than the standard minimum wage, but most employers are exempt from the state’s minimum wage because they are required to comply with the FLSA.
The FLSA requires employers to pay tipped employees a minimum wage of $2.13.
Georgia does not have any state laws governing overtime. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act always applies and requires that non-exempt employees be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.
Georgia does not have any laws regarding meal breaks.
There are no federal, state laws regarding rest breaks.
Final paychecks in Georgia
There are no laws dictating when an employer must pay a final paycheck to an employee who has been fired or suspended or voluntarily resigns.
Georgia child labor laws
The minimum working age in the state of Georgia is 12, but that only applies to employers who are not subject to the federal FLSA.
Minors under the age of 18 are required to obtain a child employment certificate, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Minors 14 and 15 years of age can work up to four hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, or 40 hours in a non-school week.
Their shifts must fall in between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Minors 16 and 17 years of age have no time restrictions.
Minors of all ages may not work in hazardous environments that could cause them harm.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to hired employees unless they have established their own policy or contract.
Georgia has no laws regarding family or medical leave, but employers may be required to provide employees unpaid leave in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave, unless they have established their own policy or contract.
Employers may establish a policy that denies employees payment for accrued vacation upon separation from employment.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave.
It is illegal for an employer to penalize or discharge an employee for taking time off to respond to a jury duty summons, but they are not required to provide paid leave.
Employers are required to provide up to two hours of leave if the employee gives reasonable notice and if the polls are not open for at least two hours before the shift begins or after it ends.
Employers in Georgia may not discriminate against an employee for taking leave to serve in the military, including by reducing their vacation or other benefits. The employee is entitled to return to their job after their military service.
In addition, employers must allow an employee to take up to six months of leave during any four-year period to attend military school.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is applicable to all employers in the United States. For information, visit the USERRA page here.
Hiring and firing
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.
Additionally, Georgia law makes it illegal to discriminate based on discharged or sealed criminal records.
The Georgia Equal Pay Act also requires employers to pay employees of the opposite sex equal wages for equal work.
Georgia is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Employers in Georgia may test applicants for drugs or alcohol. If their drug testing program meets specific requirements, they may be eligible for a discount under their workers’ compensation insurance policy.
COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.”
Georgia’s mini-COBRA allows eligible employees to continue their coverage for up to four months (the balance of the policy-month remaining at termination of benefits, plus three more months) if they were continuously covered for the six months prior to plan termination and have a total of at least 18 months of creditable coverage.
Public employers may not retaliate against employees for reporting fraud, waste, or abuse. Georgia does not explicitly allow or prohibit private-sector employers from retaliating against their employees for reporting violations of the law.
Georgia requires that employers conduct background checks on law enforcement personnel, nursing home personnel, healthcare personnel, security guards, public school personnel, mortgage industry personnel who may enter, delete, or verify any information on any mortgage loan application form or document.
As of January 1, 2021, rehabilitated people with a criminal background are allowed to petition the court to restrict and seal certain criminal records.
Get our Compliance Calendar to stay on top of deadlines throughout the year: View it on your computer. Click + Google Calendar in the lower right to add it to your Google Calendar and subscribe to all updates. You can also download a calendar (.ics) file that you can import into iCal or Outlook, or download a PDF to your computer.
View the resources available to Georgia business owners and workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in our state-by-state COVID-19 Resource Center.
Looking for ways to stay up to date on employment laws and small business news?
Subscribe now to get our weekly newsletter and compliance updates.
This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.