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Employment contract in Georgia? — No, haven’t heard of it.

On the nuances of labor relations in Georgia
Anna Davidson, founder and managing partner of JUST Advisors.
February 19, 2020
Labor relations in any jurisdiction garner heightened attention and pose increased risks, particularly when a foreigner aligns with the employee’s side. Are there any peculiarities in hiring foreigners in Georgia, and is it necessary to execute an employment contract? When can one take vacation, and is sick leave compensated? In what language should the contract be executed? This article will address these and other pertinent issues of labor law in Georgia.
Let's begin with the premise that the norms of labor legislation in Georgia apply equally to citizens of Georgia, citizens of foreign countries, and stateless persons. Rights and guarantees in the field of labor relations are not contingent on the basis of stay in the country, the presence or absence of a work visa, or a residence permit. On the contrary, employment in a company with ample turnover and a competitive salary can serve as the foundation for obtaining a residence permit. Discrimination based on nationality or citizenship is strictly prohibited.

Who can be an employer?

Any legal entity, whether commercial or non-commercial, individual entrepreneur (including those with small business status), as well as the permanent representation of a foreign company on the territory of Georgia, may be subject to these regulations. The citizenship of the company's members and its director, entrepreneur, is irrelevant.

What documents are required for hiring?

As a general rule, employment typically requires only an ID card. However, specific categories of employees may encounter additional requirements related to education, health conditions, or restrictions regarding the possession of certain categories of pets (for individuals involved in animal husbandry). In Georgia, workbooks are not issued, so information about your professional background is conveyed through your CV, recommendations, and social networks.

The Duration and Form of the Employment Contract

  • 1
    An employment contract may be concluded orally during the performance of specific work for no more than three months.
  • 2
    If you are hired for a period of one year or more, or for other specific periods established by law (such as seasonal work, replacement for a temporarily absent employee, or for performing a specific type of work), the employment contract requires a written form.
  • 3
    A permanent employment contract also necessitates a written form. Employment relationships are deemed permanent if the employment contract is concluded for a period exceeding 30 months or if, as a result of several consecutive employment contracts (with intervals not exceeding 60 days), the employment relationship lasts for more than 30 months.
The labor relationship commences from the moment the employee begins performing the work. If, at the outset of the work, the parties did not explicitly agree on a short-term employment relationship for a period of up to three months, and the employment contract was not executed in writing, it can be asserted that a lifelong employment relationship has arisen.

In which language should the employment contract be executed?

The employment contract must be executed in a language comprehensible to both parties. Labor contracts signed in two languages typically include a clause stipulating that, in the event of any inconsistency, the text of the contract in the Georgian language shall take precedence. Please ensure to verify that the text of the contract in Russian/English aligns with the Georgian version.

Is there a probationary period?

Yes, and it is of considerable duration — up to six months. Employers frequently exercise their right to institute a probationary period.

The terms of the probationary period must be explicitly outlined in a written employment contract. Therefore, if termination occurs without a written employment contract for an individual who has not completed the probationary period, such dismissal is deemed unlawful. While an employer retains the right to terminate the employment contract at any point during the probationary period, they are obligated, upon the employee’s request, to provide an explanation for the dismissal, specifying the reasons the employee did not meet the employer’s requirements.

Is sick leave compensated?

According to the law, an employee is entitled to temporary disability benefits if the period does not exceed 40 consecutive calendar days or if the cumulative period within 6 months does not exceed 60 calendar days. The employer is obligated to cover these benefits, and the amount is calculated based on the salary stipulated in the employee’s labor contract. Extension of sick leave beyond the established period is possible through mutual agreement between the parties. Prolonged incapacity for work, surpassing the prescribed period, may serve as grounds for the employee’s dismissal.

Vacation? Vacation!

The Labor Code of Georgia delineates between paid and unpaid leave.

  • The entitlement to annual paid leave, which must be a minimum of 24 working days per year, accrues to the employee after 11 months of service.
  • The employer is obligated to grant the employee unpaid leave for at least 15 calendar days per year. The request for administrative leave must be submitted to the employer at least two weeks before the intended commencement, except in cases where the need for such leave could not reasonably have been foreseen in advance.
The right to receive cash compensation for unused leave does not universally arise in two instances: (1) in certain cases of employment termination initiated by the employer, and (2) if the employment contract expires, and the employee did not utilize accrued vacation days due to the fault of the employer (failure to provide the opportunity for leave).

In the event of voluntary resignation, any unused leave will not be compensated monetarily

Leave related to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as childcare leave: Guarantees for working parents.

According to the legislation of Georgia, an employee is entitled to leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare, totaling 730 calendar days (2 years), with 183 calendar days (6 months) being compensated. In the case of childbirth complications or the birth of twins, the leave is extended to 200 calendar days. This leave is remunerated from the state budget, up to 1000 GEL (the specific amount depends on the employee's salary).

Additional compensation beyond this amount can be mutually agreed upon by the employee and the employer. Childcare leave is not applicable for children under 3 years of age. However, a working parent has the right to request an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year from the employer until the child reaches the age of 5.
In our next discussion, we will delve into topics such as labor discipline, grounds for dismissal, and the judicial perspective on reinstatement. Our advice to both employees and employers is to execute written employment contracts, pre-agree on all terms, and we wish you success!

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MARIA GUSEINOVA
Leading Manager of Commercial Department