Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to have a paid time off policy in place?

A:

Most employers will need to have a policy in place so that employees can begin to accrue paid time off on Jan. 1, 2017. You may, however, institute a one-year waiting period before employees may utilize their paid time.

If you employ five or fewer employees, you will need to have a policy in place so that your employees can begin to accrue paid time off on Jan. 1, 2018. You may, however, institute a one-year waiting period before employees may utilize their paid time.

If you are a new business, you will have one year from the date you hire your first employee to have a policy in place so that your employees can begin to accrue paid time. One year from the date you hire your first employee, you may then institute an additional one-year waiting period before your employees can utilize paid time.

When do I have to start offering paid time off to my employees?

A:

You may institute a one-year waiting period during which all existing employees may earn, but not have access to paid time off from the implementation date of this legislation.

You may also institute a one-year waiting period for new employees during which they must be able to earn but not have access to paid time off.  

What is the best way to track my employees’ accrual and use - hourly, quarterly, or annually?

A:

Essentially, you can track accrual in whatever way will work best for you as long as you are meeting the minimum standards laid out in the legislation.  

You must meet the equivalency test laid out in the legislation - this means that whatever rate of accrual you choose to provide must be at least as rapid as one hour earned for every 52 hours worked. Furthermore, employees must be able to earn up to at least 24 hours per year in 2017 and 2018, and up to at least 40 hours per year in 2019 and thereafter.

If you wish, you can choose to track time for your employees at each pay period. You could also track time on a monthly or quarterly basis. Note, however, that the law does require that your employees have access to the paid time they are earning in each quarter, should they need it.  

Perhaps the simplest way to offer your paid time benefit will be to provide it in bulk annually. In their first year of employment, employees will earn time, but you do not need to permit them access to their bank of paid time until they have worked for one full year. At that point, they will have a full “bank” of time, which you could simply renew at the start of each year, ensuring that employees have access to 24 hours of paid time off to use in 2018 and up to 40 hours in 2019 and thereafter. This annual bank method will work best for full-time employees or for part-time workers with consistent schedules.

If you have part-time employees and wish to provide only the minimum requirement, you will likely want to track hours as they are worked according to the minimum accrual rate of one hour earned for every 52 hours worked. In this case, you may tally the accrued time each pay period, monthly, or quarterly - whatever is simplest for you.  Note, however, that if you tally the accrued time quarterly, employees must still be able to use the time they have earned in the current quarter, if they need it.   

If I already offer paid time off (as vacation or combined time), but not paid sick time, do I have to change my policy?

A:

With the exception of fixed holidays, any paid time off policy, no matter what it's called, can meet the qualifications of this legislation as long as all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The employee may use the days in the ways permitted by the law to:

    •  call in sick;

    • care for a sick family member;

    • attend health care appointments; or

    • recover from domestic or sexual abuse.

    • For a detailed list of permitted uses of paid time, link here.

  2. The employee must be able to earn or otherwise access at least the number of hours required by law.  

If you have a policy that requires prior notice for absences, to come into compliance, you will need to adjust your policy to permit people to use paid time for unexpected illnesses.  You may still require prior notice for planned absences.

I own a restaurant - how does this law affect tipped workers?

A:

Tipped employees accrue and have access to paid time off just like any other worker.  When they use paid time, they should be compensated at their normal hourly wage or the standard minimum wage for non-tipped employees, whichever is greater.

I have five or fewer employees, does this law apply to me?

A:

Yes, this law applies to employers of all sizes, but employers with five or fewer employees have an extra year before it applies.  

Employers with fewer than five employees who each work at least 30 hours per week will be subject to this law as of January 1, 2018.  At that point, they may institute a one-year waiting period for their employees during which time their employees must be able to accrue, but not have access to paid time off.  

Is there anyone I can contact to find out if my policy meets the requirements?

A:

Our staff at MSA-VT would be happy to review an existing policy, schedule a call or meeting, or otherwise work with you to evaluate your paid leave policy.  Please e-mail us atvermont@mainstreetalliance.org to schedule a consultation.  

Do I need to submit my policy to the state or otherwise demonstrate compliance?

A:

No. You do not need to submit a written policy or demonstrate compliance to the state in any way unless a complaint is filed against you by an employee.  

Oversight for this legislation is complaint driven and follows the protocol set forward for non-payment of wages. If an employee believes that they have not received paid leave that is due to them, they may submit a complaint to the department of labor, who will then reach out to the employer to investigate the complaint. While there are not specific guidelines or standards for record keeping, it is important that you institute a system for tracking the paid leave you provide to your employees.

What happens if I don’t have a policy in place?

A:

It is strongly recommended that you develop a written paid leave policy and distribute it to your employees.  However, as long as you are providing at least the minimum amount of paid time off to your employees and can demonstrate that in the event of a complaint against you, you are in compliance. 

I’m a new business owner just about to hire my first employee(s), when does this law apply to me?

A:

As a new business, you have a one year grace period from the day you hire your first employee.  After that first 12 months, your employees must begin to accrue time, although you will not have to permit them to use the time earn for an additional 12 months.

Are all of my employees eligible for paid time under this law?

A:

No, you are not required to provide paid time to all of your employees - although nothing in this legislation prevents you from extending the benefit to all employees or being in any way more generous than the minimum standard set forth in this legislation.

The following groups of employees are exempted from this legislation:

  • Employees under 18 years of age.
  • Employees who work fewer than 20 weeks/year
  • Employees who work fewer than 18 hours/week (average)
  • If you have an industry specific question or aren’t sure whether an employee meets the qualifications, please e-mail us your question at vermont@mainstreetalliance.org.

I have an employee who works full time for part of the year and less than 18 hours/week for part of the year, are they eligible to earn paid time?

A:

If your employee works an average of 18 hours per week over the course of a year, then they are eligible. But, if the average number of hours they work is less than 18 hours per week, you are not required to provide paid time off to that employee.

I have employees who work for me in the winter and the summer, but break from employment between seasons, are they eligible to earn and use paid time?

A:

Any employee who works more than a total of 20 weeks per year is eligible to earn paid time according to this legislation, as long as they average over 18 hours per week.  

Do employees earn paid time when they work overtime hours?

A:

If you have hourly or salaried employees who are subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, then they must be able to accrue paid time for all the hours they work, including overtime.

However, if your employee is not subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, then you can limit to 40 hours the number for which they may accrue paid time according to this legislation.

Can I require employees to provide advance notice before they use their earned paid time?

A:

Employees must be able to call in sick - both for their own illness or that of a child or family member. You may, however, require advance notice for scheduled absences. 

What are the permitted uses for paid time off according to this law?

A:

Employees must be able to the earn and access paid time for the following uses:

  • The employee is ill or injured;
  • The employee needs to obtain professional diagnostic, preventive, routine, or therapeutic health care;
  • The employee is caring for a sick or injured parent, grandparent, spouse, child, brother, sister, parent-in-law, grandchild, foster child including helping that individual obtain diagnostic, preventive, routine, or therapeutic health treatment, or accompanying them to an appointment related to long-term care;
  • The employee is arranging for social or legal services or obtaining medical care or counseling for the employee or their family member (as described in the above list) who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • The employee needs to care for a family member (as described in the above list) because the school or business where that individual is normally located during the employee’s workday is closed for public health or safety reasons, such as a snow day or public health closure.



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