What You Need to Know About Maternity Leave in Georgia
Pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood are incredibly impactful, energy-consuming events; for most employees, time off can be very beneficial. As a result, it’s essential to understand what maternity laws are in your state. Here’s everything you need to know about maternity leave in Georgia.
No maternity laws in Georgia extend beyond national regulations set by the federal government. The kind of maternity leave you are eligible for depends on your job and your employer’s specific policy. It is important to understand which laws may apply to you, as working parents in Georgia often find unexpected avenues to obtain paid parental leave.
Federal and Georgia Maternity Leave Laws
Paid maternity leave in Georgia is entirely voluntary for employers—no state or federal laws require employers to pay employees who take time off after having a child.
However, new parents may use federal and state laws to obtain parental leave.
Like in all states, eligible employees of the federal government in Georgia are granted 12 weeks of paid time off under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA is a federal law that provides certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and requires their employer to maintain their group health benefits. This federal regulation applies to Georgia employees whose employers do not have specific provisions for parental leave.
To be eligible for leave under the FMLA, employees must have either 12 months of tenure with the company or agency or have worked 1,250 hours over the preceding 12 months.
Georgia’s “Kin Care Law”
One way some parents who work in the private sector can seek paid leave is the Georgia Family Care Act (SB 201), also known as the Kin Care Law. This law requires private employers with more than 25 employees to provide paid sick leave to allow employees to care for immediate family members. Employees may use this law to provide limited parental pay benefits.
An employee must work 30 hours a week to be eligible. The immediate family member can be a child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, parent, or dependent, as shown in the worker’s most recent tax return. Thus, the Kin Care Law may apply to newborns as well.
Federal Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodations Laws
The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act demands the rights of pregnant women be protected while seeking employment and while legitimately employed. Employers must treat pregnant women equally under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Georgia Fair Employment Practices (FEP) act
The FEP act, which applies to all public employers with 15 or more employees, requires that individuals disabled by pregnancy receive the same leave benefits made available to other employees with temporary disabilities.
Related: Georgia Parental Leave Laws
If employers provide these benefits, they must do so equally, meaning if employers do not provide temporary disability benefits, they don’t have to provide them to pregnant employees. Employers may provide these benefits with or without pay, as long as they treat all employees on disability benefits equitably.
FAQs About Maternity Leave in Georgia
Are there exceptions to the FMLA in Georgia?
Yes, exemptions to the FMLA exist for small employers with less than 50 employees if they can prove granting leave would cause their expenses to exceed available business revenue. An exemption also exists if the employee’s absence poses a substantial risk to the small employer’s financial health or operational capacity or if the employer cannot find enough available and qualified workers to replace the employee.
What are the options for financial assistance during maternity leave in Georgia if my employer doesn’t offer paid maternity leave?
Options apart from benefits guaranteed to expectant parents by law include:
– purchasing a private temporary disability policy from an insurance company
– taking out a personal loan from a private party or financial institution