Georgia Employment Law Update — May 2019

Georgia

Wage Payment and Unemployment Insurance Law Amendments

On May 6, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation (H.B. 373), which amends the state’s wage payment law by removing the requirement that employers provide a form, simultaneously with the written explanation of fees associated with a payroll card, allowing employees to opt out of receiving such payments as credit to a payroll card account.

The law also amends the state’s definition of a benefit year within its unemployment insurance law (employment security). Specifically, a benefit year, with respect to any individual, is redefined as follows:

  • For all valid claims filed on or before June 30, 2019, the one-year period begins with the day on which a valid claim is filed; and
  • For all valid claims filed on or after July 1, 2019, the 52 weeks:
    • Begins on the Sunday the claim is filed, if the claim is filed on a Sunday; or
    • Begins on the Sunday prior to the day the claim is filed, if the claim is filed on any day other than a Sunday.

In the case of a combined wage claim, the benefit year is that of the paying state and benefits may only be paid during the applicable benefit year, unless an extended benefits period is in effect. For benefit years beginning on or after July 1, 2019, when the weekly benefit amount as computed would be more than $26 but less than $55, the individual’s weekly benefit amount will be rounded up to $55.

The amendments also modify Ga. Code Ann. § 34-8-255 regarding false statements and misrepresentations made to obtain or increase benefits.

The law took effect May 6, 2019.

Read GA H.B. 373

Workers’ Compensation Amendments

On May 7, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation (S.B. 135) amending the state’s workers’ compensation law by changing the following provisions related to workers’ compensation administration and benefits:

  • For injuries arising on or after July 1, 2013, that are not designated as catastrophic, the 400-week maximum period cap is not applicable to the following care, treatment, services, and items when prescribed by an authorized physician:
    • Maintenance, repair, revision, replacement, or removal of any prosthetic device, provided that the prosthetic device was originally furnished within 400 weeks of the date of injury or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment;
    • Maintenance, repair, revision, replacement, or removal of a spinal cord stimulator or intrathecal pump device, provided that such items were originally furnished within 400 weeks of the date of injury or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment; and
    • Maintenance, repair, revision, replacement, or removal of durable medical equipment, orthotics, corrective eyeglasses, or hearing aids, provided that such items were originally furnished within 400 weeks of the date of injury or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment.
  • While the disability to work resulting from an injury is temporarily total, the employer must pay the employee two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to $675 per week and no less than $50 per week. If the weekly wage is below $50, the employer must pay that amount.
  • Where the disability to work resulting from the injury is partial in character but temporary in quality, the employer must pay the employee two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wage before the injury and the average weekly wage the employee is able to earn thereafter, up to $450 per week for up to 350 weeks from the date of injury.
  • The total compensation payable to a surviving spouse as a sole dependent at the time of death and where there is no other dependent for one year or less after the death is $270,000.

The law is effective July 1, 2019.

Read GA S.B. 135