Labor and Employment Law Overview: Utah

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Utah law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Utah requires the use of E-Verify and places restrictions on criminal background checks, drug and alcohol testing and genetic testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Utah, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Utah has a number of laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation coverage, paydays, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Utah law, employees are entitled to a number of leaves including jury duty leave, witness leave, voting leave, minor child court appearance leave and military leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Utah's occupational safety and health law adopts federal regulations. Utah also regulates smoking and weapons in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • State law dictates final paycheck requirements and provides immunity for good-faith references. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Utah

Utah is generally considered both an employer- and employee-friendly state.

Select Utah employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Utah requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Utah Antidiscrimination Act

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Sex;
  • Pregnancy, childbirth or pregnancy-related conditions;
  • Age (40 years or older);
  • Religion;
  • National origin;
  • Disability;
  • Sexual orientation; and
  • Gender identity.

The UADA also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related conditions.

Retaliation

An employer in Utah is prohibited from retaliating against employees under laws related to:

  • Discrimination;
  • Payment of wages; and
  • Safety and health.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Utah can be found in the Utah Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Utah, EEO - Harassment: Utah, EEO - Retaliation: Utah, Disabilities (ADA): Utah, Employee Discipline: Utah and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Utah? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Utah requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

E-Verify

The Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Act requires an employer with 15 or more employees to verify the employment eligibility of new hires through:

  • The E-Verify program if the new employee does not hold a permit; and
  • The U-Verify program if the individual holds a permit.

An employer is required to keep a record of the verification for the longer of the duration of the employee's employment or three years from the date of verification.

Criminal Background Checks

A Utah employer that deals with children or vulnerable adults, money or national security may obtain an applicant's criminal history after obtaining a signed waiver from the applicant that notifies the applicant that a criminal history background check will be conducted, states who will see the information and explains how the information will be used.

It is unlawful for an employer to request an applicant's Social Security number, date of birth or driver's license number for the purpose of obtaining a criminal history background check, if the employer fails to actually obtain such a background check.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

If an employer tests applicants for drugs and alcohol:

  • The employer and/or its management must submit to similar drug and alcohol testing on a periodic basis;
  • The employer must pay all costs of testing;
  • The testing must occur during, or immediately after, the regular work period of current employees; and
  • An applicant must be given an opportunity to notify the employer of any information that the applicant considers relevant to the test, such as identification of currently or recently used prescription and nonprescription drugs.

Genetic Testing

The Genetic Testing Privacy Act prohibits an employer from taking the following actions, unless it demonstrates a compelling need:

  • Requesting or requiring an applicant or the applicant's blood relative to submit to a genetic test;
  • Inquiring into or otherwise taking into consideration the fact that the applicant or relative has taken or refuses to take a genetic test;
  • Accessing private genetic information;
  • Taking into consideration private genetic information; and
  • Requiring consent to a release for the purpose of accessing private genetic information.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Utah can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Utah, Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: Utah and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Utah? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal and Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Utah requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Currently, Utah's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage.

State law authorizes the Utah Labor Commission to issue rules establishing a minimum wage. The minimum wage must be reviewed every three years and any time the federal minimum wage is changed. Utah's wage may not exceed the federal minimum wage.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Utah restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

A minor may not work in any occupation deemed hazardous by federal law unless:

  • The work is authorized by the Utah Labor Commission's Division of Antidiscrimination and Labor in writing and the minor is under careful supervision in connection with or following completion of an approved apprentice program, vocational training or rehabilitation program; or
  • The minor is at least 16 years old; employment would not endanger the minor's health and safety; and the minor:
    • Has received a high school diploma;
    • Has received a school release certificate;
    • Is legally married; or
    • Is head of a household.

With the consent of a parent, guardian or custodian, any minor may engage in:

  • Home chores and other work done for parent or guardian;
  • Any casual work not determined harmful by the Division;
  • Agricultural work including the operation of power-driven farm machinery in the production of agricultural products; or
  • Work for which a specific, written authorization has been made by the Division.

Minors 16 years of age or older may work in:

  • All occupations not declared hazardous; and
  • Occupations that involve the use of motor vehicles if the minor is licensed to operate the motor vehicle for employment purposes under state law.

Minors 14 years of age or older may work in nonhazardous occupations including:

  • Retail food services;
  • Automobile service stations, except for the operation of motor vehicles and the use of hoists;
  • Public messenger service;
  • Janitorial and custodial service;
  • Lawn care;
  • The use of approved types of vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, power lawn mowers and sidewalk snow removal equipment; and
  • Other similar work as approved by the Division.

Minors 14 years of age or older may also work in nonhazardous areas in manufacturing, warehousing and storage, construction, and other such areas not determined harmful by the Division.

Minors 12 years of age or older may engage in:

  • The sale and delivery of periodicals;
  • Door-to-door sale and delivery of merchandise;
  • Baby-sitting;
  • Nonhazardous agricultural work; and
  • Any other occupation not determined harmful by the Division.

Minors 10 years of age or older may engage in:

  • Delivery of handbills, newspapers, advertising and advertising samples;
  • Shoe-shining;
  • Gardening and lawn care involving no power-driven lawn or snow removal equipment;
  • Caddying; and
  • Any other occupation not determined harmful by the Division.

Minors under the age of 16 may not work:

  • During school hours (except as authorized by the proper school authorities);
  • Before or after school in excess of four hours a day;
  • Before 5:00 a.m. or after 9:30 p.m. (unless the next day is not a school day);
  • More than eight hours in any 24-hour period; and
  • More than 40 hours per week.

A meal break of at least 30 minutes must be provided no later than five hours after the beginning of the workday. The meal break must be paid if the employee is not completely relieved of all duties and permitted to leave the work station or area. Exemptions may be granted for minors in "unusual situations."

Minors who work at least three hours are entitled to a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes. Minors who work at least eight hours are entitled to two paid rest breaks of at least 10 minutes each.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Utah can be found in Minimum Wage: Utah, Hours Worked: Utah, Child Labor: Utah and Utah Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Utah requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation Coverage

Utah's health care continuation coverage law applies to employers with two to 19 employees. Under the law, an employer must offer continuation of heath care coverage for up to 12 months to an employee and his or her covered dependents who lose coverage due to:

  • The death of the employee;
  • Job termination (unless terminated for gross misconduct);
  • A reduction in hours;
  • Retirement;
  • Divorce or legal separation;
  • A dependent child ceasing to be a covered dependent;
  • Sabbatical;
  • Disability; or
  • Leave of absence.

Paydays

Employees must be paid at least semimonthly on regularly scheduled paydays designated in advance. Employees who are paid on an annual salary basis must be paid at least monthly.

Salaried employees who are paid monthly must be paid by the seventh day of the month following the month in which the wages were earned. All other employees must be paid within 10 days after the end of the pay period.

If a payday falls on a weekend or legal holiday, wages must be paid on the preceding workday.

Pay Statements

On each regular payday, an employer must furnish each employee with a statement showing the total amount of each wage deduction.

Employees who are paid by paycard may receive electronic pay statements, provided the employees can easily and immediately access the information and print a paper copy of their statements without cost.

Wage Deductions

In Utah, wage deductions may be made for the following reasons:

  • Deductions required by a court order or by state or federal law (e.g., child support withholding, creditor garnishments, tax levies);
  • Deductions the employee authorized in writing:
    • For dues to a labor, employee or professional organization; as a contribution for participation in a health, welfare, insurance, retirement or other benefit plan; or as a contribution to a credit union, bank or other financial institution;
    • To purchase from the employer uniforms, goods, services, tools or equipment, provided the employer repurchases the tools or equipment at the employee's option upon termination of employment;
    • To pay back advances or loans; and
    • For cash shortages, provided the employer checks the employee's till in the employee's presence at the beginning and end of his or her shift and provides a written acknowledgment of the verification, and the employee is the only person who had access to the cash from the time checked in until the time checked out;
  • Deductions for damages suffered by the employer due to the employee's negligence, provided the negligence and damages arose out of the course of the employee's employment, the employer was not compensated for the loss through insurance, the offset is reasonably related to the damage and the damage is over and above wear and tear reasonably expected in the normal course of business; and
  • Deductions for loss or damage resulting from the employee's criminal conduct against the employer's property, provided the employee was found criminally liable, the crime occurred during or after the employment relationship and the employer's property is gone or the employee admitted that the property was destroyed.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Utah can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Utah, Payment of Wages: Utah and Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Utah. Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal, Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Utah has several laws relating to required leaves for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness leave;
  • Voting leave;
  • Minor child court appearance leave; and
  • Military leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Utah can be found in the Utah Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Other Leaves: Utah, Jury Duty: Utah and USERRA: Utah. Federal requirements can be found in Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Utah requirements impacting health and safety are:

Utah Occupational Safety and Health Act

Utah employers must comply with the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Act, which adopts all federal safety standards and rules, unless specifically revoked. Utah has also adopted some industry-specific standards (e.g., drilling, farming, explosives, construction).

Utah Indoor Clean Air Act

The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in all enclosed indoor places of public access, including any workplace that is not a place of public access but has one or more employees who are not owner-operators of the business. The Act applies to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes and similar devices.

Weapons in the Workplace

A Utah employer may not restrict or prohibit employees from storing firearms in their cars while parked on employer property, as long as:

  • The employee is legally authorized to possess the firearm;
  • The firearm is locked securely in the vehicle; and
  • The firearm is not in plain view.

However, an employer may restrict or prohibit employees from storing a firearm on employer property if it provides an alternate parking lot designated for vehicles with weapons at no additional cost or a secure monitored storage location where individuals can store a firearm prior to taking the vehicle into the secured parking area.

The law protects an employer from civil liability from any event relating to the use of a firearm stored in the employer's parking lot.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Utah can be found in the Utah Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Utah, Employee Health: Utah, Workplace Security: Utah, Utah Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Utah?. Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Utah requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Paycheck

An employee who quits, is suspended or resigns due to a labor dispute must be paid all wages due on the next regular payday. An employee who is terminated or laid off must be paid all wages due within 24 hours of termination. An employer may satisfy this requirement by:

  • Mailing wages to the employee in an envelope that is postmarked no more than one day after the day the employee was terminated;
  • Initiating a direct deposit of the wages into the employee's account within 24 hours of the termination; or
  • Hand delivering the wages to the employee within 24 hours of termination.

Whether accrued vacation leave must be paid upon termination depends on company policy.

References

In Utah, an employer may not be held civilly liable for providing information in good faith about a former employee's job performance, professional conduct or evaluation to a prospective employer, at the prospective employer's request. An employer may be held liable if it discloses such information with actual malice or the intent to mislead.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Utah can be found in Payment of Wages: Utah and Employee Discipline: Utah. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.