Different business sectors from agriculture to tourism, manufacturing, film and many others offer employment to millions of individuals across the state of Georgia. Better yet, a set of employment laws has been established by the state to ensure a favourable employer-employee relationship. As an employer in the state of Georgia, it is crucial to understand these labor rules, or else you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
While Georgia labor laws may overlap with some of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), one thing is for sure. In most scenarios, employers are required to comply with both federal as well as any applicable municipal law obligations directly influencing the employment relationship.
So, are you an employer or employee in the Peach State and interested in understanding the labor laws that apply to employment contracts? Then this piece is for you. Below are a few things you should know about Georgia labor laws.
1. Minimum Wage
In Georgia, the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour as compared to the $7.25 federal minimum wage. However, if employers are required to comply with the FLSA requirements, then they have to adhere to the federal minimum wage. In fact, most employers in the state of Georgia are subject to FLSA and therefore must pay their employees the federal minimum wage alongside overtime.
Nevertheless, the Georgia minimum wages do not apply if the employer’s sales are less than $40,000 annually and with domestic employees fewer than five. Also, the same Georgia state minimum wage requirements do not apply to farm owners. All the same, the federal minimum wage requirements may still apply.
When it comes to people with disabilities and having trouble finding a job, the Georgia Commissioner of Labor has the mandate to approve a lower minimum wage for companies.
2. Workers’ Comp
In many places, workers’ compensation laws are in place to protect employees who get injured at work. Furthermore, under Georgia workers’ compensation laws, injured employees can file a compensation claim. Through a competent attorney, you stand higher chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. Compensation is usually in monetary form and can help employees recover losses like:
- Medical bills and treatment costs
- Disability compensation
- other forms of pain and suffering caused by the injuries
- Out of pocket expenses related to the injuries or treatment
- Lost Income
Another good thing about working with a competent lawyer is that they could also help protect you from getting fired from your job after a workplace injury.
3. Equal Pay Requirements
In Georgia, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act or EPEWA is the law that governs the rights of employees in the state. It also oversees that employees are paid fairly equally. If you’re an employer of ten or more employees, for instance, you’re required to pay them the same wage rates regardless of whether male or female. However, this applies provided that their job requires equal effort, skill, and responsibility while working under similar working conditions.
All the same, the EPEWA also exempts employers from paying the same wage rates to both sexes whenever the payments are made under the following scenarios:
- A seniority system
- A merit system
- A differential based on factors other than sex
- Where earnings are measured based on production quantity or quality
4. Commissions and Bonuses
According to the Georgia labor laws, commissions must be paid based on the terms of the agreement with the salesperson. Therefore, to recover unpaid commissions, the employer can be sued by the salesperson for breach of contract under the employment law. However, any forfeiture provisions are very much enforceable as long as they’re clearly and unambiguously part of the contract agreement.
5. Child Labor
According to the Georgia labor laws, there are specific and restricted occupations that an employer may employ minors but based on factors such as the number of working hours and working time. For instance, minors between the ages of 12 and 16 may not be eligible to work in environments such as manufacturing, mills, and factories. Also:
- They may not work more than 4 hours on a school day
- They may not work more than 8 hours on non-school days
- May not work more than 40 hours a week
- May not work during school hours
- May also not work between 9:00 p.m and 6:00 a.m.
6. Time Off and Leaves of Absence
The state of Georgia doesn’t have many laws when it comes to employees’ time off and leaves of absence. However, a few employees’ time off and leave of absence laws still apply in the state of Georgia. They include but not limited to:
- Jury and witness duty leave
- Military leave
- Voting leave
- Day of rest requirements covering the employers operating on Saturdays or Sundays.
Nevertheless, one thing should be clear. An overlap could exist between the federal, state, or even local laws, but compliance and providing the employee with the greatest benefits is what matters most.
7. Nursing Mother Breaks
As an employer in Georgia, you’re obligated by the Georgia labor laws to provide your nursing mother employees with reasonable breaks to express breast milk. However, this may still not apply whereby the employer has fewer than fifty employees, or whereby giving these breaks would create an undue hardship on the operations of the business.
Additionally, the employer must pay nursing mother employees for the time taken to express milk provided that they are not paid on a salary basis. Also, employers are obligated to provide their nursing mother employees with private locations conducive to expressing breast milk.
The above are just some of the main labor laws that apply in the state of Georgia. As an employer, understanding these laws comes in handy in ensuring an efficient working relationship with your employees. It can also help avoid employment-related lawsuits that would otherwise hurt your business.