State laws in Georgia for maternity and family medical leave do little to extend employee rights beyond federal regulations.
The average length of parental leave is about 6 weeks. Approximately 50% of workers meet the criteria for 12 weeks of unpaid job protections, while the remainder has no legal rights.
The average amount of income replacement is close to zero. Very few workers qualify for this valuable benefit. Follow this four-part outline for answers about rights while away from the job.
- Paltry options for income replacement benefits
- Pregnancy discrimination and accommodations
- Family Medical Leave Act paperwork & rules
- Eligibility for men, teachers, and state employees
Does Georgia Have Paid Maternity Leave
The State of Georgia does not require employers to offer paid maternity or family medical leave of absence. Employers can offer the benefit voluntarily; however, this is very rare.
Parents facing an unpaid work absence have limited options for financial help. Temporary disability, unemployment claims, and sick pay support just a few people.
Government financial assistance programs may help you survive during unpaid maternity leave and typically fall into two categories.
First, some states have initiatives that replace a portion of income while parents bond with their newborn baby. However, these opportunities are unavailable in Georgia.
Second, a variety of federal welfare programs can help mothers and fathers pay their bills during the time they are off from work. Plus, lost earnings boost your eligibility for income-based supports.
Short-term disability in Georgia sometimes provides paid maternity leave benefits. Private policies replace a portion of income if mom misses work prior to delivery because of pregnancy complications. Worksite-based policies also pay claims while mom recovers from normal labor and delivery.
However, most women miss the window of opportunity to take advantage.
- The state does not offer a program.
- Coverage must begin prior to conception.
- New policies exclude pre-existing conditions for 12 months.
- Many employers fail to offer a voluntary option.
Collecting unemployment benefits in Georgia is a poor substitute for paid maternity leave. Filing an unemployment claim is fruitless for most parents for a variety of reasons.
- Parents often still have a job
- Claimants must terminate employment
- Health reasons is not a good cause reason
- You must be able and available to work
Paid Sick Leave
The Georgia Family Care Act SB 201 (GFCA) became effective July 1, 2017. The GFCA (also known as the kin care law) requires employers that offer paid sick leave to allow employees to use this entitlement for the care of immediate family members.
The GFCA applies to employers with more than 25 employees. Eligible personnel has worked at least 30 hours per week. Immediate family members include a child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, or parent or any dependents as shown in the worker’s most recent tax return.
Georgia does not have a separate law requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. Therefore, the GFCA only applies when employers volunteer to this entitlement.
Georgia Pregnancy Discrimination Laws
Georgia pregnancy discrimination laws are very thin. Two federal laws offer rights to private and public personnel, while a state-based regulation applies to public workers only.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a workplace law that applies to expectant women in Georgia and across the country. The PDA protects expectant women’s rights while looking for a job, and when actively employed.
The PDA requires that employers treat pregnant workers in the same manner as any other employee. For example, they should modify work assignments to accommodate a pregnant woman’s limitations as they would any other male worker.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the second national regulation that pertains to expectant women in Georgia. Under the ADA, a covered employer must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women meeting eligibility guidelines.
A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables the disabled person to perform essential job functions.
Fair Employment Practices Act
The Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978 makes it unlawful for a state agency to discriminate or retaliate against any individual based on race, sex, age, disability, national origin, or color.
Georgia Family Medical Leave Laws
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal regulation, which applies to certain Georgia employers and workers. The FMLA answers the common question about the average length of maternity leave in the state.
- 12 weeks for most parents
- 26 weeks for military caregivers
- Employees are not paid
The Family Medical Leave Act paperwork for Georgia is not unique since FMLA applies the same way across the country. Therefore, everyone uses the same forms regardless of where he or she works.
The US Department of Labor hosts multiple FMLA forms. Choose the certification paperwork that pertains to your qualifying reason for unpaid job protections.
- Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
- Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
- Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities
- Designation Notice
- Qualifying Exigency for Military Family
- Serious Injury or Illness of Current Service Member
- Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver
The Family Medical Leave Act rules apply to Georgia workers as they do across the country. The basic FMLA guidelines determine which parents have job protection rights, and which ones do not.
- Covered employers have 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius
- Eligible employees logged 1,250 hours over the last 12 months and worked continuously for the same employer during this time.
The FMLA reasons determine who is eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid job and health insurance protections.
- Bond with a newborn baby within one year of birth
- Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
- Serious health condition making someone unable to perform the functions of his or her job
- Care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition
- Qualifying exigency for a family member arising from active military duty
Georgia Parental Leave Policy Eligibility
An overview of Georgia parental leave policies illustrates the wide variety of outcomes. Each law has unique qualifying criteria. In addition, employers are free to determine what set of entitlements to offer.
The FMLA determines paternity leave rights for most fathers in Georgia. Under the FMLA rules, qualifying fathers enjoy job and health insurance protections for up to 12-weeks.
Men qualify for paternity leave rights when they meet these conditions.
- Work for covered employers
- Eligible based on hours worked and continuity of service
- Care for a spouse suffering from pregnancy complications
- Bond with a newborn baby within one year of birth
- Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care
Georgia parental leave policies apply to teachers in two unique ways. First, the FMLA has special provisions for educators. Second, the state has a special law for female public school employees.
FMLA grants special rights to educators: teachers, coaches, driving instructors, special education workers, and sign language interpreters working in public and private elementary and secondary schools. The rules cover intermittent leave toward the end of the school term and giving birth during the summer recess.
Georgia Code 20-2-852 grants female public school personnel (including teachers) special rights during a pregnancy disability leave. Expectant women “shall be entitled to a leave of absence to begin at a time to be determined by the employee, the physician, and the local school superintendent between the commencement of pregnancy and the anticipated date of delivery.”
The Department of Human Services outlines the maternity and family leave rights for Georgia state government employees. State government workers enjoy several extra entitlements, which add to flexibility.
- Leave of absence without pay
- FMLA Protections
- Leave donations
- Special provisions
- Court time
- Disaster volunteer
- Organ donation
- Bone marrow donation
- Blood donation
- Voting time
State employees have the option to participate in a voluntary short-term disability program. Those who enroll before the need arises can enjoy income-replacement benefits for their own medical condition.
 Legis.Ga.Gov Senate Bill 201