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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Georgia: How Does It Work?

7 min read

Let’s take a look at the eligibility requirements, the spectrum of qualifying reasons for leave, and the rights and responsibilities of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Georgia.

Whether you’re welcoming a new family member, caring for a loved one, or facing a personal health challenge, understanding the protections and processes of FMLA is crucial. Our objective is to provide you with the knowledge to confidently navigate this legal landscape, ensuring that you can focus on what truly matters—health and family—while preserving your work.


What is Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

As a landmark piece of legislation in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993. In the beginning, it was recognized that workers facing health crises, without losing their jobs, needed help.

In essence, FMLA allows employees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year while maintaining their health insurance coverage. All government agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees are covered by this law. FMLA covers a wide range of situations, including illness, childbirth, adoption, and military family circumstances.

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FMLA: Eligibility Criteria in Georgia

In Georgia, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) sets specific criteria to determine who is covered under its provisions.

eligibility criteria fmla georgia

  • Employer Eligibility: FMLA applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. It also encompasses all public agencies, including local, state, and federal employers, and public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees.
  • Employee Eligibility: To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive). They must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave. The employee should be working at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Qualifying Reasons under the FMLA in Georgia

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Georgia, employees are entitled to take leave for several significant reasons:

reasons fmla georgia

  • Personal: Leave for an employee’s own serious health issue
  • Family Member’s Serious Health Conditions:  This includes to care for a spouse, child, or parent suffering from a serious health condition.
  • Birth, Adoption, or Foster Care Placement of a Child: FMLA allows parents to take leave for the birth of a child, as well as for the adoption or foster care placement of a child, providing time for bonding and care.
  • Military-Related Exigencies and Caregiver Leave: Employees may take leave for reasons related to a family member’s military service, including exigencies arising from a family member’s deployment. FMLA also provides for a longer leave (up to 26 weeks) to care for a family member who is a service member with a serious injury or illness.

Duration and Types of Family and Medical Leaves in Georgia

Duration of leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

  • Maximum Duration of FMLA Leave: Employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. In the case of military caregiver leave, this duration extends to 26 weeks.

Types of Family and Medical Leaves in Georgia

  • Continuous Leave: This involves taking a continuous, uninterrupted leave period.
  • Intermittent Leave: This type of leave allows employees to take FMLA leave in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.
  • Reduced Schedule Leave: This allows an employee to reduce their working hours, either daily or weekly, for a period of time due to a qualifying reason.

Employee Rights and Employer Obligations Under the FMLA Leave

rights fmla georgia

Job Security

Employees are guaranteed the right to return to the same or an equivalent position.

This protection ensures job security, even after an extended period away for qualifying reasons.

Health Insurance Maintenance

Employers must maintain the employee’s health insurance under the same terms and conditions as if they had not taken leave.

Employees continue to be responsible for their portion of health insurance premiums.

Protection of Employee Benefits

Employee’s benefits are maintained as if the worker is actively working.

Employer’s Role in Granting Leave and Maintaining Compliance

Employers are required to grant leave to eligible employees for qualifying reasons under the FMLA.

They must also keep accurate records and comply with all aspects of the FMLA, including not interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of FMLA rights.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

How To Request FMLA Leave in Georgia

Step-by-Step Guide on How Employees Can Request FMLA Leave

  1. Determine Eligibility: You must work at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and be employed for at least 12 months by a covered employer.
  2. Understand the Reason for Leave: Determine your FMLA qualifying reason, such as personal health issues, family member care, birth or adoption of a child, or military exigencies.
  3. Notify Your Employer: Notify your employer in writing or verbally of your need for FMLA leave. While immediate notice is not always possible, FMLA generally requires 30 days’ advance notice.
  4. Submit Required Forms and Documentation: Complete any FMLA leave request forms provided by your employer. Provide medical certification or other required documentation to support your leave request, such as a doctor’s note or military orders, if applicable.
  5. Await Employer Response: After submitting your request, your employer must respond within five business days, notifying you of your eligibility and detailing any additional information required.
  6. Coordinate Leave Details: Discuss with your employer the specifics of your leave, such as the start date, duration, and any potential need for intermittent leave or a reduced schedule.
  7. Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities: Review the rights and responsibilities under FMLA, including job protection, health insurance continuation, and any obligations you have during your leave.

Documentation and Notice Requirements

  • Medical Certification: If you need leave due to serious medical conditions (personal or family), provide a medical certificate. The certification should include the date the condition began, its expected duration, and relevant medical facts.
  • Advance Notice: In case of foreseeable leave, such as childbirth or planned medical treatment, provide at least 30 days’ notice.
  • Periodic Updates: Keep your employer informed about your status and intent to return to work, especially if the leave duration changes.
  • Fitness-for-Duty Certification: Provide your employer with a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work from serious health leave.

Federal vs State Specifics: Comparison of FMLA and Georgia’s State Law

In comparing the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with state-specific laws in Georgia, the primary aspect to note is that Georgia does not have a state family and medical leave statute for private employers. This contrasts with states like Michigan, which have additional state-specific provisions. Here’s a breakdown of the major aspects:

Nature of Leave

  • FMLA: Provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. It allows leave for various reasons, including personal serious health conditions, care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or certain military family needs.
  • Georgia Law: Georgia follows the federal FMLA guidelines, offering no additional state-specific leave entitlements.

Eligibility and Coverage

  • FMLA: Applicable to public agencies, public/private schools, and private-sector employers with 50 or more employees. Eligibility requires 12 months of employment and a minimum of 1,250 hours worked in the preceding 12 months.
  • Georgia Law: Since Georgia adheres to the FMLA, the same eligibility criteria apply without any state-specific adjustments.

Job Protection and Health Insurance

  • Both FMLA and, by extension, Georgia law provide job protection during leave. Under FMLA, health insurance maintenance is required during the leave.

Discrimination and Retaliation Protections

  • Both federal and Georgia law protect employees from discrimination or retaliation for taking leave under FMLA.

Coordination with Other Benefits

  • Since Georgia does not have additional state-specific leave laws, coordination with other benefits is solely under the purview of FMLA.

Interaction Between Federal and State Laws

  • In the case of Georgia, there is no interaction between federal and state laws concerning family and medical leave as the state relies entirely on the federal FMLA guidelines​​​​​​.

This comparison illustrates that, unlike some states which offer additional or modified provisions, Georgia aligns directly with the federal FMLA guidelines, without any state-specific variations or enhancements.

Resources about Georgia

Here are other important Georgia related articles

FMLA per State

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FAQ about Family and Medical Leave in Georgia

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

FMLA is a federal law providing up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, maintaining health insurance coverage, for illness, childbirth, adoption, or military family needs.

What are the FMLA eligibility criteria in Georgia?

Eligibility requires working for an employer with 50+ employees within 75 miles for 12 months and a minimum of 1,250 work hours in the past year.

What qualifies for FMLA leave in Georgia?

Qualifying reasons include personal serious health conditions, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, birth, adoption, foster care, and military-related exigencies.

How long is FMLA leave in Georgia?

FMLA offers up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, or up to 26 weeks for military caregiver leave.

What are the types of FMLA leave in Georgia?

Types include continuous, intermittent, and reduced schedule leave.

What rights and obligations are there under FMLA in Georgia?

Employees have job security and continued health insurance. Employers must grant qualifying leave and comply with FMLA regulations without retaliation.

How do you request FMLA leave in Georgia?

Determine eligibility, understand the reason for leave, notify the employer (preferably 30 days in advance), submit required documents, and coordinate leave details.

What documentation is needed for FMLA?

Medical certification for serious conditions, advance notice for foreseeable leave, periodic updates, and fitness-for-duty certification before return.

How does FMLA compare with Georgia’s state law?

Georgia follows federal FMLA guidelines, offering no additional state-specific leave entitlements.

HR Expert | Talent Management Enthusiast. You've found the right place! I'm Jose Sanchez, your expert HR guide with extensive experience in HR insight and talent management. I write about how businesses can thrive by nurturing and leveraging their talent. When I'm not immersed in HR, I love to explore the fascinating worlds of physics and psychology.

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