The 2018 legislative session in Vermont was busy! There are three new important labor laws all Vermont employers need to know, all taking effect on July 1, 2018. Also, there were two important bills vetoed by Governor Scott. Here are the details:
Sexual Harassment Policy Update
Vermont employers are required to update their sexual harassment policies with the following:
- All individuals in the workplace are now protected from sexual harassment, including interns, volunteers, and independent contractors
- Employers are required to provide written sexual harassment policies to new hires, and updated policies to all employees
- Employers are encouraged, not required, to conduct sexual harassment training for new employees within a year of start of employment, and for all current employees
- Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to sign an agreement that restricts his or her ability to oppose, disclose, report or participate in a sexual harassment investigation
- If an employee is involved in a settlement agreement regarding a sexual harassment claim, the employer must not restrict the employee’s ability to work for the employer in the future
- Employers cannot restrict employees from submitting a complaint or participating in an investigation facilitated by state or federal agencies
Pay History Ban
Vermont employers will be prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s pay history. However, if an applicant voluntarily discloses this information, employers may check references to confirm the information provided.
Crime Victim Protections
Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) has been amended to extend its anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation protections to crime victims. The amendment makes it illegal for employers to deny employment to an applicant because of their crime victim status.
The amendment defines a crime victim as any individual who has requested relief from an abuse order, including those who have secured an order against sexual assault or stalking.
Last, the law also gives employees of six months or more (averaging 20 hours of work per week) unpaid leave for deposition or court proceedings related to a crime or protection.
$15 Minimum Wage
A bill that would have gradually increased the minimum wage in Vermont was vetoed on May 22, 2018. This would have increased the 2019 minimum wage to $11.50 with yearly indexed increases to $15 by 2024.
Paid Family Leave
The Vermont Family Leave Insurance Program (FLIP) was vetoed on May 22, 2018, as well. Under this bill, employers would be required to provide employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave and six weeks of paid leave to care for a family member at 70% of the employee’s wage rate.