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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

5 Things To Know About Vermont's New Paid Sick Leave Law

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill in the Statehouse this week to require employers to offer paid time off for medical issues.

Starting next year, Vermont will require employers to offer employees paid time off to take care of themselves or their family members if they're sick or have a medical appointment.

We read over the new law to find the answers to a few questions Vermonters might have.

When does the law go into effect?

The law actually rolls out in two phases (more on that below), but employees will start earning sick days on Jan. 1, 2017.

How many paid sick days?

This is where those two phases come in. In 2017 and 2018, employers are required to give their workers 24 hours (three days) off per year.

After that, it goes up to 40 hours, or five days, of legally required paid sick leave.

Do employees need proof of illness?

It depends on the employer.

The new law doesn’t seem to specifically mention this, so we asked Dan Barlow who advocated for this bill on behalf of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

Barlow said there’s no requirement in the new law that workers have to bring their employer a doctor’s note or anything like that as proof that an absence was legitimate. He says the law also doesn’t prevent workplaces from implementing such policies.

Is this money just coming out of businesses’ bottom lines, or is there a government funding mechanism?

The money employers pay out for their employees’ sick leave will come from the businesses themselves. Analysts for the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office estimate that means businesses will pay as much as $11 million more for labor once the law is fully rolled out.

What if a business already offers paid days off? Does this change anything for that business or its employees?

The employer doesn’t have to change anything as long as:

  • Employees have as much or more paid time off as the law requires, and...
  • Employees can use their time off “for all of the reasons set forth” in the law - like being sick, having a sick family member or going to a doctor’s appointment.

Does it affect part-time workers?

Employees who work 18 or more hours per week are covered under the policy unless they’re seasonal employees who work 20 weeks of the year (about five months) or fewer for a given employer. It also doesn’t apply to anyone under 18. Sorry kids.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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