Labor and Employment Law Overview: Vermont

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

  • A Vermont employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees based on a variety of factors. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • State law restricts an employer's ability to require drug testing, medical exams and polygraph testing as a condition of employment. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Vermont, there are many requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Vermont has a number of laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, how frequently employees must be paid, wage notice requirements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Vermont law, employees are entitled to a number of leaves, including parental leave, long-term and short-term family leave, town meeting leave and legislative leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • A Vermont employer must comply with the approved state Occupational Safety and Health plan and the workplace smoking ban. See Health and Safety.
  • A Vermont employer must be aware of final paycheck obligations and layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Vermont

Vermont is an employee-friendly state.

Select Vermont 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 Vermont requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices Act

Vermont's Fair Employment Practices Act (FEP Act) applies to all employers and recognizes several protected classes not recognized under comparable federal law. The FEP Act prohibits an employer from discriminating in employment on the basis of:

  • Race and color;
  • Religion;
  • National origin and ancestry;
  • Sex (including pregnancy);
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Place of birth;
  • Age (18 years and older);
  • HIV status;
  • Military status; and
  • A qualified physical or mental condition.

The law also prohibits retaliation against any person who makes a claim of discrimination.

Under the FEP Act, an employee may disclose and discuss wages without fear of discipline or termination. An employer may not require employees, as a condition of employment, to:

  • Sign a wage nondisclosure agreement; or
  • Agree not to disclose their wages.

Equal Pay

A Vermont employer may not discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages of one sex at a rate less than employees of the other sex for equal work. An employer may, however, base pay differentials on other nondiscriminatory factors, such as seniority or merit.

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 Vermont can be found in the Vermont Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Vermont, EEO - Discrimination: Vermont, EEO - Harassment: Vermont, EEO - Retaliation: Vermont, Vermont Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Vermont requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Drug Testing

Vermont's drug testing laws restrict an employer's ability to require job applicants to submit to drug testing as a condition of employment. An employer is permitted to request drug testing only after an applicant has received a conditional offer of employment stating that employment is conditioned upon a negative drug test result.

Medical Examination

An employer may request medical examinations only after making a conditional offer of employment. The same medical examination must be required of all employees in the same job category, and the employer must pay for all costs.

Lie Detector Tests

The Vermont Polygraph Protection Act forbids the use of polygraph testing as a condition of employment. There are specific exceptions for certain employers, for example, employers selling precious metals or gems and employers manufacturing or selling regulated drugs.

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 Vermont can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Vermont and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Vermont requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Vermont is $9.60 per hour. This rate will increase to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2017, and to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2018. Beginning January 1, 2019, and every January 1 thereafter, it will be adjusted for inflation. Minimum wage rules are applicable to all employers with two or more employees.

Overtime

An employer must pay an employee at least one-and-one-half times the employee's regular wage rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Certain employers, e.g., hospitals and nursing homes, may instead pay overtime according to an "Eight and 80" system.

Meal and Rest Periods

Under Vermont law, an employer must provide its employees with a reasonable opportunity to eat and use the bathroom.

Breastfeeding Breaks

For a period of three years after the birth of an employee's child, a Vermont employer must provide the employee with:

  • Reasonable time throughout the day to express breast milk for a nursing child; and
  • An appropriate private space (not a bathroom stall) for expressing breast milk.

An employer may, but is not required to, pay employees for breaks taken to express breast milk. An employer may not discriminate against employees who exercise their right to take a break for the purpose of expressing breast milk.

Certain employers are exempt from this law, e.g., if providing a private space would substantially burden the employer.

Child Labor

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

For most prohibited occupations, Vermont has adopted the federal standards into its own regulations

Minors under 16 generally may not work:

  • During school hours;
  • More than 18 hours in any one week when school is in session (40 hours when school is not in session);
  • More than three hours in any one day when school is in session (eight hours when school is not in session); or
  • Before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. (after 9:00 p.m. June 1 through Labor Day).

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 Vermont can be found in the Vermont Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Vermont, Overtime: Vermont, Hours Worked: Vermont, Child Labor: Vermont and Vermont Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Vermont requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

Vermont group health policies, including dental policies, issued to employers must include continuation coverage. Continuation coverage must be provided to any person whose coverage would terminate upon the occurrence of a qualifying event. The Vermont continuation coverage law also applies to self-insured group plans.

Paydays

An employer must pay employees on a weekly basis. However, after providing written notice to employees, an employer may issue paychecks on a biweekly or semimonthly basis. Paydays must be within six days of the last day of the pay period.

Wage Statements

An employer must provide a detailed written wage statement to employees with each payment of wages. At a minimum, the statement must include the following information:

  • Total wages due;
  • Pay period;
  • Total amount of deductions;
  • Amount of each deduction; and
  • Number of hours worked.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make certain deductions from employees' wages, such as deductions:

  • Specifically authorized by state or federal law;
  • Authorized in writing by the employee;
  • For employer-provided meals and lodging in the amounts indicated in the Vermont minimum wage rules; and
  • For goods and services provided by the employer to the employee, as long as specific conditions are met.

An employer may not make deductions from employees' pay for:

  • Damages, cash register shortages or the cost of a medical exam that is a condition of employment;
  • The cost of uniforms and uniform maintenance;
  • Personal protective equipment required by occupational safety and health regulations, except as allowed by federal regulations; and
  • Offsetting an employer's mandatory state health care contribution.

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 benefit practices in Vermont can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Vermont, Payment of Wages: Vermont, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Vermont and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? 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

Key Vermont requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Parental and Family Leave Act

Vermont's Parental and Family Leave Act (PFLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or parental leave during any 12-month period.

An employer with 15 or more employees must provide family leave for the serious illness of the employee or the employee's:

  • Child;
  • Stepchild;
  • Ward;
  • Foster child;
  • Spouse;
  • Party to a civil union;
  • Parent; or
  • Parent of the employee's spouse.

An employer with 10 or more employees must provide parental leave for:

  • The birth of a child; or
  • The initial placement with the employee of a child 16 years or younger for the purpose of adoption.

Short-Term Family Leave

Unpaid short-term family leave of up to four hours in any 30-day period (but not more than 24 hours in any 12-month period) is available to an eligible employee to:

  • Participate in preschool or school activities directly related to the academic educational advancement of the employee's child, stepchild, foster child or ward;
  • Attend or accompany the employee's child, stepchild, foster child, ward, spouse, parent or parent-in-law to routine medical or dental appointments;
  • Accompany the employee's parent, spouse or parent-in-law to other appointments for professional services related to their care and well-being; or
  • Respond to a medical emergency involving the employee's child, stepchild, foster child, ward, spouse, parent or parent-in-law.

Other Leave Laws Affecting Vermont Employers

In addition to the PFLA, a Vermont employer is also required to comply with additional leave laws including:

  • Town meeting leave;
  • Legislative leave (covering employers with six or more employees);
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness leave;
  • Crime victim 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 Vermont can be found in the Vermont Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Vermont, Other Leaves: Vermont, Jury Duty: Vermont, USERRA: Vermont, Vermont Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Vermont requirements impacting health and safety are:

Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Act

Vermont operates an approved state Occupational Safety and Health plan covering the private sector. The Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Act adopts the majority of federal standards by reference and has few state-specific rules.

Smoking

Vermont bans smoking, including the use of tobacco substitutes (e.g., electronic cigarettes), in all enclosed workplaces. The prohibition does not apply to businesses that do not sell food or beverages but solely provide a setting for patrons to purchase and use tobacco substitutes and related paraphernalia.

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 Vermont can be found in the Vermont Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Vermont, Employee Health: Vermont, Vermont Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Vermont requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Paycheck

An employer must pay an employee who is terminated within 72 hours of the termination. An employee who voluntarily leaves employment must be paid on the next regular payday or, if there is no regular payday, on the following Friday.

An employer must pay employees for accrued vacation if the employer has a policy or contract providing for it.

Notice of Potential Layoffs Act

Vermont's Notice of Potential Layoffs (mini-WARN), creates state-level thresholds for federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notifications. Vermont's mini-WARN Act applies to:

  • Employers with 50 or more full-time employees;
  • Employers with 50 or more part-time employees who each work 1,040 hours per year; and
  • Employers with a combination of 50 or more full-time and part-time employees who each work at least 1,040 hours per year.

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 Vermont can be found in Payment of Wages: Vermont, Involuntary Terminations: Vermont and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Vermont? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary Terminations: Federal.