Sick leave law in Georgia? This law has “no teeth.”

Georgia employers must now allow sick time to be used for family members.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law sick leave legislation that for the most part creates almost nothing. Senate Bill 201 creates a requirement that Georgia employers allow employees to use sick leave for family members. However, the provisions are not very strict and employers cannot be help responsible for not following this law.

Provisions of the law

According to the bill:

  • An employer that provides sick leave shall allow an employee to use such sick leave for the care of an immediate family member; provided, however, that nothing in this Code section shall be construed to require an employer to offer sick leave or to require an employer to allow an employee to use more than five days of earned sick leave per calendar year for the care of an immediate family member.
  • An employee shall not be entitled to use sick leave under this Code section until that leave has been earned. Any employee who uses such sick leave shall comply with the terms of the employer’s employee sick leave policy.
  • Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to create a new cause of action against an employer.
  • This Code section shall not apply to any employer that offers to their employees an employee stock ownership plan.

The law applies to employers who have 25 or more employees who work 30 plus hours per week.
The law firm Seyfarth Shaw refers to this legislation as a “kin care” law rather than sick leave. Many smaller organizations, unlike larger organizations, do require that sick leave be used only for the personal illness of the employee. Not the most enlightened policy, hence this legislation.

No teeth

The enacted legislation however, has no penalty for violation of the law. Employers cannot have action taken against them for not providing this leave. There is also no provision that employers have to provide any sick leave. The law also allows an additional out for employers. No sick leave allowance is needed if employees are provided with stock ownership. I am not sure why this provision is included, after all stock ownership does not provide any leave flexibility.

Effective date

This Georgia law is effective July 1, 2017. If you have in your policy manual that sick time can only be used for the illness of the employee you need to change this. Up to five days can now be used by the employee for illness of a member of their immediate family to include child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, parent, or any dependents as declared in tax returns.

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