The Vermont Employment Law Guide

The state laws every business owner should know

Businesses must post all applicable state and federal labor law posters in the workplace.

Vermont labor law posters to download

Federal labor law posters to download

Wages and Breaks

Minimum wage
$10.96

The current minimum wage in Vermont is $10.96.

The state minimum wage is to be reviewed every year and increased by 5 percent or the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is smaller.

Tipped min wage
$5.39

The minimum wage for tipped employees is $5.39.

The tipped minimum wage is to be adjusted by the same percentage as the standard minimum wage each year.

Overtime
1.5X

Vermont law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.

 

Breaks
Yes

Employers are required to provide “reasonable opportunity” to eat and use the restroom.

Federal law does not require employers to provide meal periods or breaks, but if they choose to do so, breaks lasting less than 20 minutes must be paid.

Lactation Breaks
Yes

Federal law requires that lactating women be provided with reasonable breaks to express milk for up to one year after the birth of a child.

Final Paychecks

Employees who are terminated or laid off must be paid all final wages within 72 hours of the discharge.

Employees who quit must be paid all final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday. If there is no established payday, they must be paid by the following Friday.

Child Labor

Minors 14 and 15 years of age

On school days, they may not work more than 3 hours a day and not during school hours. During school weeks they may not work more than 18 hours a week.

On non-school days, they may not work more than 8 hours a day. During non-school weeks they may not work more than 40 hours a week

They may not work outside of the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except for June 1 to Labor Day, when they may work between the hours 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Minors 16 and 17 years of age

They do not have time restrictions, but may not work in hazardous jobs such as manufacturing, construction, and similar fields.

Leave Requirements

Sick days

Employers are required to provide eligible employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 52 hours worked.

Accrual may be capped to 40 hours in a 12-month period.

Family and medical leave

Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.

Bereavement leave

Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Vacation time

Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.

Holiday leave

Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.

Jury Duty

Employers are not required to pay employees for time spent on jury duty, but may not penalize the employee in any way.

Voting time

Vermont does not require employers to provide leave.

Witness Leave

Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee for appearing as a witness pursuant to a summons.

The employee’s witness leave counts as time worked for determining seniority, fringe benefits, credit towards vacations, and other rights, privileges, and benefits of employment.

Crime Victim Leave

An employee who is the victim of a crime must be allowed unpaid time off to attend legal proceedings related to the crime and they are entitled to reinstatement upon their return from leave.

Employees are eligible if they have worked for the employer for at least six months and average 20 hours or more per week.

Employers must not discriminate against crime victims in any other term or condition of employment.

Town meeting leave

Employers must allow an employee to take leave to attend an annual Town Hall Meeting, provided they have given at least seven days’ notice.

Military Leave

Employers must allow their employees who are service members to take up to 15 days of military leave.

After their leave, the employee is entitled to return to their job with the same seniority, status, and pay that they would have accrued if they had not taken the leave.

Hiring, firing, and more

Discrimination

Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.

Additionally, Vermont employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of: Credit report or credit history; AIDS/HIV; Place of birth; Wage garnishment for consumer debts.

Employers may not discharge or discriminate against employees or applicants because they are a member of the National Guard or federal reserves or engage in military activities.

Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.

Termination

Vermont is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.

Vermont has certain requirements for employers who are closing their business or conducting a mass layoff. A “business closing” or “mass layoff” means at least 50 employees lose their jobs in Vermont within a 90-day period.

Employers should provide 45 days’ notice to the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development and to the commissioner. This notice must include the approximate number of affected employees, their job titles, the anticipated layoff date, and the affected work sites.

Employers should also provide 30 days’ notice to the commissioner of the actual number of affected employees, their job titles, the date of the layoff, and other information necessary to determine unemployment benefits and to access resources to mitigate adverse impacts of the layoff.

Employers should provide 30 days’ notice to the local chief elected official of the municipality, affected employees, and, if applicable, employees’ union representative.

Record Keeping

Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:

For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves. 

For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.

For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination. 

Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you: 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.

You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.

If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.

Additional laws that may apply to you

Pay Practices

Employers in Vermont must pay their employees at least weekly unless they give employees advance written notice that pay will be biweekly or semimonthly.

Background checks

Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.

Employers are required to conduct background checks on the following types of employees or applicants: School personnel, including student teachers, superintendents, and employees of contractors who may have unsupervised contact with children; Work-study students who will have unsupervised contact with schoolchildren; Childcare personnel; Personnel, including volunteers, who work for a commissioner-designated shelter; Personnel, including principal officers and board members, of a cannabis dispensary; Home health agency personnel who provide direct care; Residential treatment program personnel, including volunteers and student interns, who may have unsupervised contact with children; Personnel who work for an emergency management organization and who have access to facilities, materials, or information that requires a security clearance.

Credit and Investigative Checks

Employers in Vermont may not obtain credit reports on their applicants or employees unless under the following circumstances: The information is required by State or federal law or regulation; The job involves access to confidential financial information; The employer is a financial institution or credit union; The job is for a law enforcement officer, emergency medical personnel, or a firefighter; The job requires a financial fiduciary responsibility to the employer or a client of the employer, including the authority to issue payments, collect debts, transfer money, or enter into contracts; The employer can demonstrate that the information is a valid and reliable predictor of employee performance in the specific job; The job involves access to an employer’s payroll information.

Arrest and Conviction Checks

Under the “Ban the Box” law, employers are prohibited from asking about criminal histories on initial employment applications. If employers ask for criminal history information later in the hiring process, applicants must be given the opportunity to explain the information, including any rehabilitation.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Employers may test their applicants and employees for drugs or alcohol only if they follow certain requirements, as outlined below.

ApplicantsEmployers may test applicants only if all the following conditions are met: The employer offers them the job conditioned on passing a drug or alcohol test; The employer provides written notice of the testing procedures and a list of drugs they test for; The employer provides a written statement that therapeutic levels of medically prescribed drugs will not be reported; The employer follows the following state requirements of administering the test.

EmployeesEmployers may test employees only if all the following conditions are met: The employer has probable cause to believe that the employee is using drugs on the job or is under the influence of drugs on the job; The employer has a rehabilitation program available to the employee; The employer does not discharge an employee for a positive test if the employee completes the rehabilitation program; The employer follows the following state requirements of administering the test.

Employers are generally required to accommodate off-duty medical use of marijuana.

Whistleblower Protection

Employers in Vermont may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for most types of whistleblowing. Examples of protected activity include the following: Exercising their rights regarding workplace safety, such as reporting an unsafe working condition; Filing a complaint or participating in an investigation regarding discrimination; Filing a complaint or participating in an investigation of a violation regarding parental and family leave; Filing a complaint regarding a violation of the Vermont Polygraph Protection Act; Filing a claim or participating in a proceeding regarding a violation of state labor law; Filing a claim or participating in an investigation regarding a violation of military-leave laws.

COBRA

COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.” Vermont’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to 18 months. Employers must provide an employee with a notice of their COBRA rights within 30 days of the triggering event.

Salary History Inquiry Ban

Employers may not ask about a prospective employee’s current or past compensation at any point during the hiring process. This prohibition includes seeking information from or through a third party. Employers also may not use current or past compensation to satisfy minimum or maximum requirements or to determine whether to interview a candidate.

Healthcare Fund Contribution

Employers with five or more employees who do not offer insurance to all their employees must pay a “Health Care Fund Contribution.” The Health Care Fund Contribution Assessment (HCFCA) is administered by the Department of Taxes.

The assessment is paid for every uncovered full-time equivalent employee. To find out how many uncovered full-time equivalent employees an employer has, an employer must do the following: Divide the total hours worked by all uncovered employees during a quarter by 520. No matter how many hours are worked by an employee in a quarter, no more than 520 hours can be assessed for one individual employee. Round down to the nearest whole number and then subtract 4. The reason 4 is subtracted is because the first four uncovered employees are exempt for all employers. The resulting number is the number of uncovered employees for which the employer must pay the assessment. Multiply the number of uncovered employees by the rate. The resulting number is the contribution the employer must pay to the Health Care Fund.

Social Media

A Vermont employer may not require, request, or coerce an employee or applicant to do any of the following: Disclose a username, password, or other means of authentication, or turn over an unlocked personal electronic device for the purpose of accessing the employee’s or applicant’s social media account; Access a social media account in the presence of the employer; Divulge or present any content from the employee’s or applicant’s social media account; Change the account or privacy settings of the employee’s or applicant’s social media account to increase third-party access to its contents; Add anyone, including the employer, to their list of contacts associated with a social media account.

Employers may request that an employee share specifically identified content for the purpose of: Complying with the employer’s legal and regulatory obligations; Investigating an allegation of the unauthorized transfer or disclosure of an employer’s proprietary or confidential information or financial data through an employee’s or an applicant’s social media account; Investigating an allegation of unlawful harassment, threats of violence in the workplace, or discriminatory or disparaging content concerning another employee.

Compliance Calendar

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 Remember

This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros. 

Additional Resources

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