Paid Holidays in Georgia (2024 Guide for Employers)

Paid holidays are not a required part of running a business in Georgia, or any state. Nothing in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or even Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires a business owner in any state to offer paid holidays to employees. To some business owners this can seem like a blessing: it means they don’t have an additional thing to track throughout the year when they’re already worried about monitoring employee hours, scheduling, payroll, and more.

However, despite being optional, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 80% of business owners in private industries offer paid holidays off anyway, and for good reason.

In this post we’re going to break down everything Georgia business owners need to know about paid holidays, from what they are, to how they differ in the public sector vs private, to the benefits reaped from offering them.

What is a Paid Holiday?

A paid holiday is a religious, state, or national holiday that Georgia employers have the eligibility to grant their employees. While on a paid holiday, your employees take the day off and are still compensated with a full day’s worth of wages despite their absence from the workplace.

Who do Paid Holidays apply to?

Only public employers are required by federal law to offer paid holidays to their employees. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) identifies public employees as those working for the United States Government, directly for a state, the District of Colombia, a territory or possession of the United States, a city, a municipality, a township, a county, a parish, or a similar government.

However, if a private employer decides to offer paid holidays to their employees, they are bound by law to uphold the terms outlined in their PTO policy, employment contract, or other written document.

Federal Holidays

The list of all federal holidays to be observed throughout the 2024 calendar year (regardless of what state you’re in) and the date they fall on is as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 15)
  • George Washington’s Birthday / President’s Day (Monday, February 19 – third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27 – last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (Wednesday, June 19)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14 – second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (Monday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)

Some states change the official names and nature of these holidays. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is known as Robert E. Lee Day in some southern states.

Any legal holiday that happens to fall on a Saturday results in employees having the preceding Friday before the holiday off. If a federal holiday happens to land on a Sunday, employees get a day off the following Monday.

Holidays Specific to the State of Georgia

  • Good Friday (Friday, March 29)
  • Day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 29)

Georgia State Holidays occur on two days throughout the year, of which only state offices are required to close. For private businesses, it’s entirely up to the owner if full-time and part-time employees will be granted the holiday off.

Impact of Common Georgia Leave Laws

While we’re observing the overall impact of paid holidays on work hours, let’s take a look at Georgia’s Labor Laws.

Sick Time

If you’re a small business with less than 25 employees, you are not required by Georgia law to provide paid or unpaid sick leave. Business owners with more than 25 employees, as well as state government employees, fall under the provisions set by the Georgia Family Care Act, but only if they already provide sick leave in addition to short-term or long-term disability plans.

In other words, Georgia business owners are not required to provide paid sick leave by any state laws, but if they choose to do so there are specific parameters they have to follow in how they grant sick leave to their eligible employees.

Vacation Leave and Holiday Time

Georgia has no requirements for vacation time whatsoever, meaning that it’s entirely up to employers if they’re going to offer vacation days to their employees, and how they’re going to allow that paid time off to accrue. While employers are held to whatever agreements they outline in their leave policy by employment law, they are not required to offer a premium rate of holiday pay (usually premium pay is one and a half times an employees’ regular rate of pay) if they need their team members to come in during a proposed holiday leave.

Parental Leave

Only state employees are entitled to parental leave in the state of Georgia, with a recent expansion. House Bill 1010 was signed into effect on April 24, 2024, which is meant to double the length of paid leave for state employees from three to six weeks for state government and public school employees.

On the opposite end, Georgia does not currently have any parental leave laws in effect for private employers, though the FMLA may apply to eligible employees in certain situations.

Bereavement Leave

There is no law that requires that Georgia employers provide paid time off for employees for bereavement or to attend a family member’s funeral, nor is there a requirement for this to be paid or unpaid leave. That said, an employer that chooses to offer this type of leave in their benefits package will be held to any agreement they outline.

Jury Duty

Employers are required to grant their employees time off to serve on jury duty, though they are not required to pay employees for this time off. No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States.

Voting

Georgia law requires employers grant their workers up to 2 hours to vote on the day of an election, but employers get to specify the hours an employee is eligible to use. The exceptions to this rule are employees whose hours of work begin at least 2 hours after the polls open or end at least 2 hours before the polls close. Employers do not have to pay employees for the time taken to vote.

Overtime Pay

Georgia overtime follows the same standards set by the FLSA, which is a rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours exceeding 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

Read our guide here for a more comprehensive look at how Georgia Law affects your workplace.

The Benefits of Paid Holidays

Georgia largely leaves it up to the employer whether you’re going to offer paid holidays and paid leave, and to what degree. Because of this freedom, employers might naturally lean towards being more conservative with how many days they offer, if they offer any at all. However, there are some serious benefits to consider when deciding your approach to paid holidays:

1. Paid Holidays Attract High-Level Talent

Paid Time Off and paid holidays are an important factor for employees considering their place of employment, especially in the wake of the pandemic. According to a survey by Deloitte, 25% of Gen Z and 31% of millennials choose a good work/life balance as their reason for choosing an organization, which is the highest agreed-upon reason for making the decision.

A critical component of an employee being able to maintain a good balance in their personal lives is an allotment of breaks from work they can work with. While not all prospective employees will be able to make decisions based on PTO and paid holidays, the more desirable, highly skilled workers will. If an employee that would be a great asset to your company is choosing between two workplaces, it might come down to which one would offer them the most time to spend with family.

2. Paid Holidays Improve Company Culture

Managing your work environment is a skill that takes some cultivation, and ensuring employees are doing their best work can be a delicate balancing act. That said, offering paid holidays is one of the easiest ways to contribute to a more productive work environment.

Paid holidays mean a period where employees can take time to themselves, stress-free (in part due to being paid), and relax. When they come back in to work, they’ll be recharged and ready to work, communicate, and cooperate. This positive effect spreads across your workforce, making for a more successful work environment.

It’s also important to note how easily the opposite could happen. If your employees aren’t taking time off, they might be letting stress and overwork slowly wear them down. This can lead to them being uncommunicative and uncooperative, an effect which can spread and turn your work environment toxic.

3. Paid Holidays Save Money

At first glance, paid holidays only seem to cost money. Your employees get a day off, you still have to pay them, no work is done. However, as we highlighted above, these paid holidays allow workers to take time to recuperate from constantly working. They get to spend time working on any issues in their personal lives or can have fun with friends and family that also get to share the day off. When they return to work recharged, they’re able to be more productive, which means better work and more endurance to continue working.

If you choose to operate a business that doesn’t offer PTO or paid holidays, you risk employees constantly experiencing overwork. While this can result in a toxic workplace, it can also get even worse with employees outright quitting due to stress and overwork. Beyond the immediate loss of a capable worker causing a hit, there’s also the price of getting a new replacement to consider. Though exact figures vary, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that replacing a worker costs six to nine months of an employee’s salary. It’s more preferable, and economical, for you to improve employee retention by offering paid holidays.

Track Paid Holidays and Employee Leave with Buddy Punch

Now that we’ve outlined how paid holidays and paid vacations work, it’s time to help you manage them. Tracking optional paid holidays in addition to the daily concerns of work (tracking your employees’ time, scheduling your staff, handling accruals and payroll, etc.) can seem like a hassle, but workforce management software will drastically streamline the entire process. While there are dozens of different tools on the market, you don’t have to look much further than our very own Buddy Punch.

Take for example our Paid Time Off Management Feature. With this, you can track employee PTO on a employee-by-employee basis, using either Buddy Punch’s default paid time off types or creating custom ones at will. Additionally, you can set it up so that you or your administrators or Human Resources Department receive notifications whenever an employee requests time off. This sets you up for easy approval or denial of requests. You can also establish PTO Accruals easily, establishing rules, allowing or disavowing negative balances, and deciding how carry over is to be handled for annual leave.

Buddy Punch also takes it a step further, allowing you to enable a self-service option with paid time off. If turned on, a trusted employee will be automatically approved for any paid leave they request. This gives your team members something to strive for, and lets you spend just a little less time managing, more time optimizing other aspects of your business.

All of this, and we’ve only touched on a single feature Buddy Punch comes with. There are many more time tracking, employee scheduling, and payroll management options our software comes with, making it an all-in-one tool for any business owner to consider.

But we’re not unbiased. That’s why we recommend using sites like the software review hub Capterra to see how Buddy Punch measures up against competition. With a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars (based on 982 reviews), we think it’s no surprise that over 10,000 business owners have converted to using Buddy Punch to manage their employees.

Click here to view a demo video, or click here to start a 14-day free trial of Buddy Punch.

Paid holidays are optional for the vast majority of business owners across the United States, but the savvy entrepreneurs choose to offer them anyway. Understanding why, with a look at the data and the potential benefits, as well as accessing software tools can help any business owner use paid holidays to their advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So, offering PTO of any kind is optional in Georgia?

Yes, PTO of any kind if completely optional in Georgia. That said, you are held to any agreements you make as an employer when you offer PTO and paid holidays to your employees, and certain businesses may fall under the purview of the Georgia Family Care Act that went into effect July 1, 2023.

Do Georgia Businesses have to pay out unused PTO if an employee quits or is terminated?

Georgia does not have any law that requires employers to pay out unused vacation days when an employee is terminated or ceases employment for any reason.

Do employers tend to offer employees all 11 paid federal holidays every fiscal year?

According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average U.S. employees receive 7.6 paid holidays. The two most common paid holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas, while President’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two least common.

What is Georgia’s minimum wage?

Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. However, since this is below the federal minimum wage, the federal wage of $7.25 applies almost everywhere, with limited exceptions.

Official State Resources

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Georgia Holiday & Paid Leave Laws but does not constitute legal advice, nor does it replace an attorney-client relationship. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Georgia, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney or employment lawyer to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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