By Kathleen Jennings (firstname.lastname@example.org)
July 1 is traditionally the time for new laws to take effect in the state of Georgia. This year, there are two new laws that Georgia employers need to be aware of.
Paid Sick Leave. Effective July 1, 2017, Georgia employers that already provide paid sick leave to employees will be required to allow employees to use up to 5 days of that paid sick leave to care for immediate family members. The law defines “immediate family member” as “an employee’s child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, or parent or any dependents as shown in the employee’s most recent tax return.” Note that the new law does not require employers to offer paid sick leave to employees; rather, it applies only if an employer elects to offer paid sick leave to employees. Note also that the law applies only to employers with more than 25 employees, and only to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Thus, part-time employees who work less than 30 hours a week are not entitled to the protections of the new law.
Pro tip: Georgia is not the only state that has enacted a law dealing with paid leave for employees; we have seen other states (Arizona, New York) and municipalities (Chicago, Cook County Illinois, Minneapolis, St. Paul) enacting such laws. Employers should be alert for new developments in the areas where they have employees.
On call scheduling. This new Georgia law preempts local governments from adopting higher minimum wage requirements or requiring additional overtime pay above and beyond federal law requirements. The new law also provides that local governments may not require employers to provide employees “additional pay based on schedule changes.”
Many see this new law as an employer-friendly endorsement of “on call” scheduling, by which employees are notified shortly before scheduled work time whether they must report for work. This practice allows employers to match staffing to customer needs and promotes efficiency for employers. In contrast, some other jurisdictions, such as San Francisco and Seattle, require employers to compensate employees when their shifts are changed or cancelled without sufficient notice.
Kathleen Jennings, Principal is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in sexual harassment and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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