Georgia Governor Nathan Deal Signed New Sick Leave Law into Effect
Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed a new labor law into effect on Monday, May 8, 2017. However, the new bill isn’t what many business leaders have feared and it isn’t like many other sick leave laws passed this year. SB 201 governs the use of sick leave for full time employees in Georgia.
The new law is officially called “An Act to amend Chapter 1 of Title 34 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions relative to labor and industrial relations, so as to allow employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members; to provide for definitions; to provide for conditions to take leave; to provide for applicability; to provide for automatic repeal; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”
Covered Employees under the New Sick Leave Provisions
Employees who work at least 30 hours of more in Georgia and whose employers already offer some types of sick leave are covered under the new law. Further, employees have to be employed by an employer with at least 25 employees or more.
Therefore, employees of small businesses, with less than 25 employees, are not covered under the new law. Additionally any employee who has the option to participate in a stock ownership plan with their employer is also exempt from the new law.
Additionally, Georgia State and all political subdivisions, cities, towns and municipality government employees are also covered under SB 201.
Requirements of the New Law Regarding Sick Leave Usage
Any employer who allows their employees to earn paid sick leave must also for up to 5 days of that sick leave time ot be used for immediate family member’s sickness or illness. The bill doesn’t specifically contain any provisions regarding paid time off (PTO) or whether or not PTO would fall under the bill.
However, if PTO is allowed for sick leave usage, then employers should allow up to 5 days of PTO to be used for family member’s illness or sickness.
The bill does not require that employer provide sick leave to employees. If the employer provides less than 5 days of sick leave a year to employees, then the new law doesn’t require sick leave days be increased to 5 days.
Further, employees are not allowed to take sick leave time for family members before they have accrued leave per their employer’s accrual policy.
Allowable Family Member Relationships for Sick Leave Use
The family member relationships allowed for sick leave use by law include children, parents, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, and any other dependents listed on the employees tax returns.
An Automated Phasing Out of the Law
The new requirements of SB 201 are automatically repealed on July 1, 2020 unless another law is implemented to extend it.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers should review their current sick leave or paid time off policies to ensure compliance with the new law. Allowable reasons for sick leave use should be modified to include immediate family member’s needs as well as employee illness or sickness.
The law has already been signed into law so employers should review policy immediately.
Any changes that are made to conform with the new law should be distributed to employees and managers.
Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated May 15, 2017