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Employment and labor laws in Georgia 2024 guide

An employer's guide to labor laws, payroll, benefits, and taxes in Georgia.

Georgia at a Glance

State capital

Atlanta

Population

10.62 million

State motto

"Wisdom, Justice, Moderation"

Key industries

Agriculture, Film, Energy, Automotive, Tourism

Major economic hubs

Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta

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Introduction to employment laws in Georgia

Overview

Although Georgia’s labor laws may be less stringent than those of some other states, it is still crucial for employers to understand these regulations to maintain a fully compliant workplace. In this guide, we’ll give you all you need to know about staying on the right side of federal and state employment laws in Georgia.

Employing in Georgia: Key employment laws and practices

Standard work hours

For most businesses operating in Georgia, full-time employment ranges between 30 to 40 hours per week, as per federal regulation standards. However, this isn’t strictly defined by law.

Part-time employment varies depending on the employer’s needs but is usually less than 30 hours weekly. Contractual workers have their work hours agreed upon in the contract terms.

Minimum wage and overtime

Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, but most employers adhere to the higher Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and all employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must pay the federally mandated minimum wage.

Georgia follows the federal FLSA for overtime regulations, with non-exempt employees entitled to 1.5 times their regular pay for working over 40 hours in a week

Insurance and benefits

In Georgia, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more employees. The state doesn’t mandate most other types of insurance. Notably, however, employers must bear the entire cost of unemployment insurance benefits.

However, many employers offer health, dental, vision, life insurance, and retirement benefits of their own accord in order to attract and retain talent.

Benefit

Detail

Workers’ compensation

Mandatory for employers with three or more employees

Health insurance

Optional

Dental and vision insurance

Optional

Life insurance

Optional

Retirement benefits (401k)

Optional

Unemployment insurance

Mandatory

Under Georgia HR compliance laws, employers must also consider state-specific requirements, such as providing up to three months of healthcare continuation coverage after an employee’s coverage ends.

Meal and rest periods

Georgia employment laws do not specifically mandate meal and rest breaks for employees. However, employers typically provide breaks as a part of their HR compliance policy.

Anti-discrimination laws

Georgia employment laws protect employees from workplace discrimination based on specific protected characteristics such as age (40-70) and disability, as per the Age Discrimination Act and the Georgia Equal Employment for Persons With Disabilities Code respectively. The latter applies to employers with 15 or more employees and prohibits retaliation against individuals opposing unlawful discrimination or participating in an investigation or hearing.

Georgia also follows the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA), requiring employers with 10 or more employees to provide equal wage rates to both genders for equal work undertaken under similar work conditions.

Multiplier makes it easy to manage benefits for Georgia employees.

Leave policies

In Georgia, there are few laws mandating time off and leaves of absence for employees. Notably, sick leave is not mandated.

In general, leaves can be classified into Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, Voting Leave, and Day of Rest Requirements leave. These vary in their provisions and requirements.

Type of leave

Description

Jury duty leave

Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury duty. However, Georgia law does not require employers to pay employees for this leave.

Military leave

Georgia law provides that employees who are members of the National Guard are entitled to leave without loss of pay or benefits for up to 18 days annually.

Voting leave

While Georgia does not have a specific law requiring employers to grant employees time off to vote, it is considered a good HR practice.

Day of rest requirements

This applies to businesses operating on Saturday or Sunday, requiring them to provide a day of rest for their employees.

Termination laws

Georgia is an “at-will” employment state, so either employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, or no reason, provided it’s not unlawful.

There are no state laws mandating severance pay unless it’s a part of an employment contract. Neither is there any law mandating when a terminated or quitting employee must receive final pay.

However, on the death of an employee, Georgia law mandates an employer to pay wages due up to $2,500 to the designated beneficiary or next of kin. Employers must also adhere to federal regulations such as COBRA and the WARN Act when terminating employees.

Easily onboard employees in Georgia?

Safety and health

Georgia prohibits smoking in enclosed areas within workplaces as per the Georgia Smokefree Air Act unless they meet certain criteria. Georgia law permits employees to carry licensed firearms in personal vehicles on company parking lots without employer intervention.

Taxes in Georgia

In terms of taxes, employers in Georgia must follow both federal and state obligations. Federal taxes include Social Security tax and Medicare tax. The state unemployment insurance tax is the primary state-level tax, which employers pay to the Department of Labor.

Tax type

Percentage

Federal Social Security

6.2% (employer contribution)

Federal Medicare

1.45% (employer contribution)

Georgia Unemployment Insurance

Varies (employer contribution)

Managing Georgia employees with an Employer of Record (EOR)

Navigating the intricate web of Georgia employment laws can be a daunting task for businesses looking to grow or expand their workforce in the state.

If you are looking to hire employees in Georgia, our Employer of Record (EOR) solution allows you to employ full-time workers in Georgia legally and without having to set up local entities. This simplifies the process of hiring in the state and staying on the right side of compliance.

With our Global Payroll platform, you can process payroll for all your employees, local and international, on time while managing local taxes, contributions, and withholdings.

Book a demo today and see how Multiplier can streamline your HR and compliance processes.

FAQs

Georgia law permits employers to conduct preemployment criminal history checks and drug tests provided they follow proper collection procedures.

The minimum wage in Georgia is $5.15 per hour, but most employers are required to adhere to the higher federal rate of $7.25 per hour. The state doesn’t define full-time hours, but it typically ranges between 30 and 40 hours per week.

Georgia law mandates healthcare continuation for up to three months after employment termination for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Wages must be paid in cash or checks, with exceptions for direct deposit or payroll card if specific conditions are met. Nonexempt employees should be paid at least twice a month.

Georgia law requires employers to provide time off for jury and witness duty leave, military leave, voting leave, and a day of rest for those working on weekends. These allowances are in line with federal laws to ensure workers’ rights are respected.

Georgia’s Smokefree Air Act bans smoking in all enclosed workplace areas, and the Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits using hand-held devices while driving. Also, employees are allowed to keep licensed firearms in locked, private vehicles parked on company grounds.

Managing employees in Georgia?

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