Federal regulations provide for maternity and family medical leave, but Georgia state laws do little to extend those rights. On average, parental leave is around 6 weeks. About half of workers will qualify for 12 weeks of job protected leave through the FMLA, but those who qualify typically limit the amount of leave they schedule for financial reasons, since FMLA leave is unpaid.
Does Georgia State Law Provide Paid Maternity Leave?
In Georgia, state law does not require employers to offer paid maternity leave or family medical leaves of absence, but some employers offer benefits voluntarily. An employer who voluntarily offers paid maternity leave is rare, but individuals in need of leave should always check their employer’s policies prior to scheduling unpaid leave.
Will Short-Term Disability Policies Provide Paid Maternity Leave?
Georgia employees seeking paid maternity leave benefits may also consider accessing short-term disability benefits. These private policies can replace a portion of income if a pregnant mother misses work prior to the birth due to pregnancy complications. Some policies also pay claims for mothers recovering from a healthy labor and delivery. This type of private policy must begin prior to conception in order for any related events to be covered, and new policies will almost always exclude pre-existing conditions for 12 months. Many employers do not offer this type of voluntary coverage, but it is a partially paid leave option to consider when it’s available.
Can Paid Sick Leave be Used During Maternity Leave?
The Georgia Family Care Act SB 201 (GFCA) went into effect July 1, 2017. Also known as the kin care law, it requires that employers that offer their employees paid sick leave to allow them to use available sick leave to care for immediate family members. The GFCA applies to companies that employ more than 25 workers. Employers must work at least 30 hours per week to be eligible. Qualifying dependents include: any dependents included in the most recent year’s tax return, a child, a spouse, a grandchild, a grandparent or a parent. There is no state law in place that requires Georgia employers to offer sick leave to their employees, so the GFCA will only apply if the employer voluntarily offers sick leave to their workforce.