Overview: On May 8, 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 201, now known as Act 203, into law. The law went into effect on July 1, 2017. In short, the new law requires covered employers, who provide paid sick leave to employees, to allow those employees to use some sick leave to care for immediate family members. The law does not create a new cause of action, which means an employee cannot bring a private suit against her or his employer under the new law.

Summary: The law applies only to employers with at least 25 employees, and does not apply to any employer that offers to their employees an employee stock ownership plan. The law defines “employee” as an individual who works at least 30 hours per week. The law requires covered employers to allow eligible employees to use up to five days of sick leave to care for their immediate family members. Immediate family members are limited to the employee’s child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, or parent of any dependents as shown in the employee’s most recent tax return.

Importantly, the law applies only to employers that choose to provide paid sick leave – it does not create an obligation for employers to provide paid sick leave. Under the law, sick leave means paid time away from work due to the employee’s own incapacity, illness or injury. It does not include paid short-term or long-term disability. In other words, if the employer provides paid sick leave for the employee to use for her or his own illness, now the employer must allow that employee to use the employee’s sick leave to care for an immediate family member. Moreover, an employee can only use sick leave that the employee has already accrued, and sick leave must be used in accordance with employer’s sick leave policy.

Bottom Line:

Employers covered by this new Georgia law who provide paid sick leave to employees are now required to allow employees to use that time to care for their immediate family members. Georgia employers with at least 25 employees should review their policies and train human resources employees and supervisors to ensure compliance with this new law.