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

  • Vermont law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees based in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide pregnancy accommodations and allow wage discussions. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Vermont permits preemployment criminal checks and drug testing, but limits credit checks and salary history inquiries. Vermont has passed a "ban the box" law. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Vermont, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Vermont has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Vermont law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family and medical leave, paid sick leave, town meeting leave, legislative leave and crime victim leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Vermont prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Vermont employers must comply with applicable final pay and mass layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Vermont

Vermont has many laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including pregnancy accommodation rights, a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as overtime, child labor and occupational safety.

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

The Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act (VFEPA) applies to all employers and prohibits discrimination based on factors such as:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • National origin;
  • Ancestry;
  • Sex (including pregnancy);
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender identity;
  • Place of birth;
  • Age (18 years and older);
  • HIV status;
  • Military status; and
  • Physical or mental condition.

The law also prohibits retaliation against any person who makes a claim of discrimination, and specifically prohibits sexual harassment.

Discussion of Wages

Under the VFEPA, an employer may not prohibit an employee from disclosing or discussing his or her wages or the wages of other employees with co-workers. An employer also may not require employees to sign a written waiver denying the employee the right to disclose the amount of his or her wages or to inquire about or discuss other employees' wages.

Equal Pay

A Vermont employer may not discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages of employees of one sex at a rate less than employees of the other sex for equal work that requires equal skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. An employer may, however, base pay differentials on nondiscriminatory factors, such as seniority or merit.

Pregnancy Accommodation

The VFEPA requires a Vermont employer to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee's pregnancy-related condition (i.e., a limitation of an employee's ability to perform a job due to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition). Regardless of whether an employee with a pregnancy-related condition is considered to be an individual with a disability under the law, the employee has the same rights and is subject to the same standards regarding reasonable accommodations as a qualified individual with a disability.

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:

Credit Checks

Vermont limits employers from using or inquiring into applicants' or employees' credit reports, except under limited circumstances, such as:

  • The job involves access to confidential financial information or payroll information;
  • The employer is a financial institution or credit union; or
  • The job is that of a law enforcement officer, emergency medical personnel or a firefighter.

Where a credit check is allowed, an employer must obtain written consent each time it seeks a credit report; disclose in writing the reason for accessing the credit report; and alert applicants that they have the right to contest the accuracy of the credit report under Vermont law. Credit history may not be the sole reason for denying employment.

Criminal Checks

An employer is allowed to obtain criminal background checks from the Vermont Criminal Information Center (VCIC) only after a conditional employment offer has been made. The applicant must provide written authorization on a release form provided by the VCIC, and the employer must maintain a current user's agreement with the center.

Ban the Box

Vermont prohibits employers from asking criminal history questions on an initial job application. The law does not prevent an employer from asking about an applicant's criminal background during a job interview or later in the hiring process. However, an employer must give a prospective employee the opportunity to explain his or her past, including any post-conviction rehabilitation efforts.

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.

Salary History Inquiry Restrictions

Vermont prohibits an employer from:

  • Inquiring about or seeking information about a prospective employee's current or past compensation from either a prospective employee or a former employer;
  • Requiring that a prospective employee's current or past compensation satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or
  • Determining whether to interview a prospective employee based on his or her current or past compensation.

However, if a prospective employee voluntarily discloses information about his or her current or past compensation, the employer may seek to confirm the information after making an employment offer.

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

Wage and Hour

Key Vermont requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Vermont is $10.50 per hour. 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 Breaks

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 per week during school weeks (40 hours when school is not in session);
  • More than three hours per day on school days (eight hours on nonschool days);
  • More than six days per week; 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 (e.g., termination, reduction of hours, divorce, loss of dependent child status, death). The maximum period of continuation coverage in Vermont is 18 months, regardless of the qualifying event. The Vermont continuation coverage law also applies to self-insured group plans.

Payment of Wages

A Vermont employer must pay employees' wages either in cash or by check. An employer may pay wages by direct deposit, if employees provide written consent, or deposit wages onto an electronic paycard, if employees voluntarily consent, use of paycards is not a condition of employment and other conditions are satisfied.

Pay Frequency

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.

Pay Statements

With every paycheck, an employer must provide a written pay statement to employees that includes 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 that are authorized by federal or state law (e.g., taxes, child support), for employer-provided goods and services, for employee benefits contributions and for employer-provided meals and lodging. The employee's written authorization may be required.

An employer generally may not make deductions from employees' pay for certain employer costs (e.g., damages, cash register shortages, required preemployment medical exam, uniforms, personal protective equipment, mandatory state health care contributions), among other things.

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 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.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Key Vermont requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Family and Medical Leave

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 a covered family member.

An employer with 10 or more employees must provide parental leave for the birth of a child or for the adoption of a child who is 16 years or younger.

Under the Vermont Earned Sick Time Law (VESTL), all employers doing business or operating in Vermont must provide paid sick leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:

  • The employee's or a family member's illness; injury; or diagnostic, preventive, routine or therapeutic health care;
  • To accompany a family member to an appointment related to long-term care;
  • For reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; and
  • When a family member's school or business is closed for public health or safety reasons.

Other Time Off Requirements Affecting Vermont Employers

In addition to the PFLA and VESTL, a Vermont employer is also required to comply with other leave and time off laws, such as:

  • 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 time off and leave of absence 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:

Smoke-Free Workplace

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.

Safe Driving Practices

Vermont prohibits drivers from texting while operating a moving motor vehicle. Texting includes reading, composing and sending electronic communications (e.g., text messages, instant messages and e-mails) using a portable electronic device, such as a cellular phone, PDA, laptop or similar device.

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 Pay

An employer must pay final wages to an employee who is fired or laid off within 72 hours of the termination. An employee who voluntarily leaves employment must be paid by 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.

Mass Layoff Notifications

Vermont's Notice of Potential Layoffs (Mini-WARN) Act, 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 at least 1,040 hours per year; and
  • Employers with a combination of 50 or more full-time employees 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.