Georgia Leave Laws




Vacation Leave

In Georgia, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. See Shannon v. Huntley’s Jiffy Store, Inc., 329 S.E.2d 208, 174 Ga. App. 125 (1985).

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they are terminated. See Ryvos v. St. Mary’s Hospital, 393 S.E.2d 739, 195 Ga. App. 474 (1990); Shannon v. Huntley’s Jiffy Store, Inc., 329 S.E.2d 208, 174 Ga. App. 125 (1985).

An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year. See Amoco Fabrics & Fibers Co. v. Ray, 510 S.E.2d 591,235 Ga. App. 821 (1998).



An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. See Shannon v. Huntley’s Jiffy Store, Inc., 329 S.E.2d 208, 174 Ga. App. 125 (1985).

Georgia’s Legislature and its courts are silent regarding whether an employer must pay an employee for accrued vacation upon separation from employment if the policy or contract is silent regarding the matter. However, because of the contractual emphasis Georgia courts place on vacation policies, it is unlikely an employer would be obligated to pay an employee accrued vacation upon separation from employment if its policy or contract is silent regarding the matter, unless the employer has a practice of doing so.

Although Georgia’s Legislature and its courts are silent regarding the matter, it is likely an employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time. See Shannon v. Huntley’s Jiffy Store, Inc., 329 S.E.2d 208, 174 Ga. App. 125 (1985).

An employer would also likely be free to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. See Shannon v. Huntley’s Jiffy Store, Inc., 329 S.E.2d 208, 174 Ga. App. 125 (1985).



Sick Leave

In Georgia, employers are not required to provide employees with sick leave, either paid or unpaid. See GA Dept. of Labor FAQ: Sick Leave. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

An employer in Georgia may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.



Holiday Leave

Georgia law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Georgia, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Georgia State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Georgia as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.



Jury Duty Leave

Georgia law makes it illegal for an employer to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee for taking leave for the purposes of attending a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty, or other court order. It is also illegal for an employer to threaten an employee with discharge, discipline, or any other adverse employment action for taking leave for the purposes of attending a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty, or other court order. GA Code 34-1-3.

Georgia does not have any laws specifically requiring employers to provide paid leave for an employee to perform jury service. However, the Attorney General issued an opinion in 1989 interpreting GA Code 34-1-3 as requiring employers to pay employees for jury service leave. In 1998, the Attorney General issued another opinion in which it was stated that an employee would have a private right of action (they could file a civil claim in state court) against their employer for failure to pay wages for jury leave. Many counties have adopted the Attorney General’s position when providing direction to jurors, however, no court has addressed the viability of the Attorney General’s opinion.



Voting Leave

Georgia law requires employers to provide an employee up to two (2) hours of leave to vote if:

  • the employee gives the employer reasonable notice of the need to take time off, and
  • the polls are not open for at least two (2) hours before the employee’s shift begins or after it ends.

The law does not require that the voting leave be paid. Also, the employer may determine that hours an employee may be absent to vote to minimize the disruption to business operations.

Georgia Code 21-2-404.



Bereavement Leave

Georgia law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.