There’s No Georgia PTO Law, But Watch Out For These Laws

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Georgia doesn’t have any PTO laws, you can offer any PTO policy you like. Or none at all. 

But you do want to pay attention to the Georgia Family Care Act, which was signed into law permanently in 2023 with an effective date of July 1, 2023. Also known as GA SB61, the Georgia Family Care Act allows workers receiving earned sick leave to use their sick leave to care for other family members rather than just themselves.

But you’re not required to offer sick time either. The only requirement is that if you DO offer sick time, that paid leave can be used to also care for a family member. That’s it.

What to Know About the Georgia Family Care Act

In 2017, Georgia adopted a temporary law called the Georgia Family Care Act, which helps provide workers with time that they can use to care for their family members. The act made it mandatory for employers with at least 25 employees to allow workers with earned sick time to use up to five days of their sick time to care for a family member.

However, this act only applies to companies already providing paid sick time. It does not require Georgia employers to provide sick time if they aren’t already.

In May 2023, the act was signed into law, making it a permanent part of the Georgia labor code beginning on July 1, 2023.

Here’s the exact language from the regulation:

And this is how the Georgia Family Care Act defines everything:

  • Employer: Under Georgia’s law, an employer can be any individual or company in Georgia employing at least 25 people.
  • Employee: For this law, an employee is defined as someone who works for the individual or company for at least 30 hours each week.
  • Sick leave: For the purposes of the Georgia Family Care Act, sick leave refers to paid sick leave in which an employee takes time off from work to care for themselves and gets paid by their employer their regular wage during that time off.
  • Immediate family member: Georgia defines an immediate family member as a child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or a dependent listed on the employee’s last tax return.

All the requirements of the Georgia Family Care Act

To recap all the requirements:

  • Employers are not required to offer sick time.
  • If an employer has more than 25 people and they DO offer a sick time policy, employees can use up to 5 days of that sick time policy each year to care for a family member.
  • The family member must be a child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or a dependent.
  • The employee must work at least 30 hours per week.
  • None of this is required if the employee is part of a stock ownership plan.

Your company can certainly offer more than this, you’re just not required to do so.

Georgia Accrual, Roll Over, and Payout Requirements

The Georgia Family Care Act doesn’t have any requirements for accruals, rollovers, or payouts.

You can set up the details of your PTO and sick leave policies however you want.

But whatever you decide, you do need to follow them. Regardless of the PTO laws in a given state, you can end up in hot water if you apply policies differently to employees. That opens you up to discrimination lawsuits. So put together a PTO policy you’re happy with, write it down, and implement it consistently.

Georgia and the Family And Medical Leave Act

In Georgia, you’re also subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that applies across the country to all employers with at least 50 employees. This act requires employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave for specific circumstances without repercussions, like being demoted or losing their jobs.

Specifically, FMLA covers employees who need to take time off from work to have a baby, adopt a baby or child, care for a spouse or immediate family member, or care for themselves if they have a severe physical or mental health issue. The law allows most people to get at least 12 weeks of covered FMLA leave, but workers who need time off to take care of an immediate family member who is part of the U.S. military service can get up to 26 weeks of protected leave.

To qualify for FMLA benefits, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours over those 12 months. Employees can use all of their FMLA leave at one time or on an intermittent schedule until they’ve reached their allowed amount.

FMLA only requires employers to allow unpaid family and medical leave for workers. However, employers can choose to offer paid leave for some or all of the FMLA-protected time an employee uses.

Should You Offer PTO in Georgia? Even if it’s Not Required?

I strongly recommend that you offer a strong PTO policy, regardless of the requirements in Georgia.

For my companies, I prefer to combine vacation days, personal days, and sick days into a single PTO bucket. Then employees can use PTO however they want, whenever they want. Life happens to all of us, employees should be able to take time off when they need to.

Also, I’ve found that the best employees have a tendency to NOT take any time off. Then they burn themselves out, quit after a few years, and the business suffers deeply from it.

The loss of productivity from PTO is minor, employees always make up for it when they come back focused, rested, and ready to work. And the impact a good PTO policy has on employees is massive. You’ll see a huge reduction in turnover.

So for me, there’s no downsides in having a good PTO policy but tons of costs for not having one.

I’d make sure every full-time employee gets 3 weeks of PTO per year. I know 2 weeks is standard for many industries in America but I just don’t think that’s enough time. For part-time folks, I’d scale the policy so they’re earning PTO at the same rate based on how many hours they work. This takes care of itself with a good PTO accrual system.

Trustworthy Resources on Georgia PTO Laws

When you’re setting up your own PTO policies in Georgia, it’s always a good idea to check official sources:

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