Vermont Becomes Fifth State with Sick Leave Law

In a Bill passed by the Vermont legislature (H.187), Vermont became the fifth state in the U.S. to enact a paid sick leave law. Four other states (Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut) and the District of Columbia have enacted earned sick leave for workers.

Vermont employers will be required to allow workers to earn paid sick time beginning January 1, 2017. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the legislation amending Sec. 3. 21 V.S.A. § 384 Employment; Wages of Vermont state law.

Of Vermont’s Earned Sick Leave law, Governor Shumlin said, “Vermonters who are sick shouldn’t have to choose between going to work or losing their jobs. This isn’t just about fairness to employees. It’s about protecting all of us.”

UPDATE: The Bill was signed into law by Governor Shumlin Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

Which Employers Are Covered by the Vermont Earned Sick Leave Law?

  • Vermont businesses with six or more employees are required to offer earned sick leave January 1, 2017.
  • Smaller employers (5 or fewer employees) will need to offer earned sick leave in 2018. who are employed for an average of no less than 30 hours per week shall not be subject to the provisions of 21 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 4b until January 1, 2018.
  • New businesses can delay implementation of the earned sick leave law for one year after hiring their first employees.

Vermont Earned Sick Leave: Quick Facts

Accrual: Vermont employees will begin accrual on January 1, 2017 or on their first day of employment after the January 1, 2017 effective date. Workers accrue one hour of earned sick time for every 52 hours worked.

Usage Eligibility: New employees become eligible to use accrued earned time off after their first year of employment. In the law’s first year of implementation (2017 for businesses with six or more workers), employers may delay the usage of all workers for one year, but to be clear, those workers still begin accruing earned sick leave even during the waiting period.

Accrual Cap: Employers can limit the amount of earned sick time accrued by workers to 24 hours per year in 2017 through 2018. The cap increases to 40 hours per year beginning January 1, 2019.

Usage: An employee may use earned sick time for themselves or family members for:

  • Illness and injury
  • Professional diagnostic, preventive, routine, or therapeutic health care
  • Arranging for social or legal services, obtaining medical care or counseling, or relocating after domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Vermont Earned Sick Leave Posting and Notice Requirements

At the time of hire, employers must inform new employees of the Vermont Earned Sick Leave law in addition to displaying a required posting from the state “in a place conspicuous to employees” in the workplace at the employer’s place of business. The posting has not yet been released, and GovDocs will monitor for it.