A new Vermont law will require most employers to provide paid sick time to employees. Vermont is the fifth state to adopt a paid sick leave law, following Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon.  The law will be effective on January 1, 2017.

Some Key Provisions of the New Law:

  • While the law takes effect on January 1, 2017, employers with five or fewer employees who are employed for an average of 30 hours or more per week will not be subject to the law until January 1, 2018.
  • “Employee” is defined as a person who is employed for an average of 18 hours or more per week during a year. The law also excludes several categories of workers from the statutory definition of “employee,” including federal employees, certain state employees, certain short-term employees, and individuals under 18 years of age, among others.   Accordingly, these workers thus are not entitled to paid sick leave under the law.
  • Eligible employees are entitled to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 52 hours worked, subject to the following caps:
    • Between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018, Vermont employers may limit an employee’s accrual and use of sick time to 24 hours in a 12-month period.
    • After December 31, 2018, Vermont employers may limit an employee’s accrual and use of sick time to 40 hours in a 12-month period.
  • Employees generally must be permitted to carryover unused, accrued sick time from one year to the next year, but employers may limit employees’ use of accrued sick time in any 12-month period in accordance with the 24 or 40 hour caps described above. Employers also may elect to pay an employee for unused sick time in lieu of permitting carryover, but are not required to do so.
  • Employers may impose a “waiting period” of up to one year for newly hired employees or for current employees who are employed on the law’s effective date. During the waiting period, employees will accrue sick time, but can be prohibited from using the accrued time until after the completion of the one-year waiting period.
  • Employees may use sick for the following purposes: (i) to care for the employee’s or employee’s family member’s illness, injury, need for medical diagnosis or treatment, or need for preventative medical care; (ii) to obtain services or care for the employee or employee’s family member who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or (iii) to care for a family member because the school or business where that individual is normally located during work hours is closed for public health or safety reasons.
  • Employees can be required to make “reasonable efforts” to avoid scheduling routine or preventative health care during the work hours. Employers also may require employees to notify the employer as soon as practicable of the intent to take sick time and the expected duration of the employee’s absence.
  • Employees generally must be allowed to use sick leave in the smallest time increments that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for other absences or that time off policies permit; however, employers are not required to permit sick leave use in increments of less than one hour.
  • Employers must post notice of the law’s requirements in a conspicuous place. Employers also must provide notice of sick leave rights to new hires.
  • Vermont employers should review their current sick leave policies and practices and update them in compliance with the requirements of the new law. Preexisting policies (such as sick leave, vacation day, or similar paid time off (“PTO”) policies) can satisfy the Vermont law provided that the accrual rates and permissible uses under the policy are at least as favorable as the new statutory requirements; however, employers should confirm with counsel that these policies are in compliance because the requirements of the new law are likely to be more expansive than existing policies. Vermont employers also should be on the lookout for regulations and other interpretive guidance related to the new law.
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Photo of Allison Martin Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department. Allison represents employers in a wide range of employment litigation matters, including employment discrimination and harassment lawsuits arising under Title VII and similar state and local statutes, retaliation claims, and…

Allison Martin is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department. Allison represents employers in a wide range of employment litigation matters, including employment discrimination and harassment lawsuits arising under Title VII and similar state and local statutes, retaliation claims, and wage-and-hour claims. She represents employers in federal and state courts, arbitration tribunals, and before the EEOC and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Allison has extensive experience litigating both single plaintiff and class action lawsuits.

Allison also counsels clients on a broad range of employment law matters, including investigations, employment policies and procedures, and employee terminations and discipline. She also has experience conducting high-profile internal investigations on behalf of employers.

Allison previously served as a federal law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

At Seton Hall University School of Law, Allison was an Articles Editor for the Seton Hall Law Review. Allison also  interned for Chief Judge Garrett E. Brown (Ret.) of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey while in law school.

Photo of Joseph O’Keefe Joseph O’Keefe

Joseph C. O’Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all…

Joseph C. O’Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all types on behalf of employers, before federal and state courts, arbitral tribunals (e.g. FINRA and AAA), and state and federal administrative agencies throughout the U.S. Joe has litigated employment-related lawsuits alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wage and hour violations, Title IX violations, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business related torts. Joe’s practice includes representing clients in complex class and collective litigation, including alleged violation of state and federal pay equity laws, violations of wage and hour laws and discrimination claims. Joe’s experience includes appellate work in both federal and state courts.

In addition to his extensive litigation practice, Joe regularly advises employers, writes and speaks on a wide range of employment related issues. He counsels clients concerning pay equity, use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, management of personnel problems, ADA/FMLA compliance, reductions in force, investigation of employee complaints, state and federal leave laws, wage and hour issues, employment policies and contracts.

Joe represents employers in a variety of industries including financial services, higher education (colleges and universities), pharmaceuticals/medical devices, health care, technology, communications, fashion, consumer products, publishing, media and real estate. He frequently writes articles concerning developments in the law and speaks at seminars concerning legal developments in the labor and employment law field.