This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Georgia.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Georgia.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No federal or state laws in the USA require employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time. This includes the state of Georgia.
If Georgian employers choose to provide employees with paid time off/annual leave/vacation time, they must abide by anything written into employees’ contracts and company policy.
Use It or Lose It policies are not addressed by state law in Georgia, so employers are free to implement such a policy if they wish to do so.
Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.
Employers in Georgia are not required to pay out unused PTO, sick leave or any other type of leave upon separation of employment (e.g. when an employee quits, is fired or is laid off), unless this is clearly stated in an employee’s contract.
Employers in Georgia are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to employees.
The Georgia Family Care Act states that employees who do earn paid sick leave are allowed to use up to five of their sick days per year to care for family members.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Georgia must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following state holidays are observed in Georgia:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
|3rd Monday in February||President’s Day|
|2 days before Easter||Good Friday|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|2nd Monday in October||Columbus Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|Day after Thanksgiving||State Holiday|
|December 24||Washington’s Birthday|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
Employers in Georgia are not required to grant a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays. If employees are required to work on a state holiday, they are not automatically entitled to additional benefits, such as a higher rate of pay or a compensatory day off.
There are no state laws in Georgia regarding maternity leave. However, the federal FMLA applies for new mothers, providing up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for a newborn child, or newly adopted or fostered children.
New fathers get the same rights under the FMLA to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a new birth, adoption or foster.
There is no law in Georgia regarding bereavement leave. It’s up to the discretion of employers whether to grant leave for a bereavement, and whether this leave is to be paid or unpaid.
Employers cannot discharge, discipline or penalize an employee, or threaten to do so, for attending judicial proceedings, including jury duty, subpoenas and court orders.
There is no law specifically stating employees must be given leave to attend jury duty, but the clause above effectively means that employers must give unpaid, job-protected leave to allow employees to serve their jury summons.
This time off is not required to be paid by the employer.
Employees in Georgia are entitled to up to two hours off to vote, unless the polls are open for at least two hours before or after an employee’s shift.
Members of the US armed forces and state national guards (including the Georgia National Guard) are entitled to unlimited unpaid leave for active service, and up to six months of leave in a four year period for service school or annual training.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) also applies in Georgia, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Georgia state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.