Like employers in every state, Vermont employers must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain reasons. Once an employee’s FMLA leave is over, the employee has the right to be reinstated to his or her position.
Vermont law also gives employees the right to take time off for family and medical reasons. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
Federal FMLA Rights
Vermont employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.
Who Is Covered?
Employers in Vermont are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- bond with a new child
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
Vermont employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Leave and Reinstatement Rights
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
Vermont Family and Medical Leave Laws
In addition to the rights granted by the FMLA, employees in Vermont have the right to family and medical leave and small necessities leave under state law. In 2014, Vermont also gave employees the right to request a flexible work arrangement up to twice a year. Although the law doesn't require employers to grant flexibility, it does require at least that they give it serious consideration.
Vermont Family and Medical Leave
Vermont’s Family and Medical Leave law provides for parental and family leave:
- Employers with at least ten employees must provide time off to eligible employees for pregnancy, childbirth, or adoption of a child up to 16 years old.
- Employers with at least 15 employees must provide time off to eligible employees for the employee’s own illness or to care for the employee’s family member. Family members include parent-in-law and the employee’s partner in a civil union.
Employees may take a total of up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave in a 12-month period.
Vermont Small Necessities Law
Employers with at least 15 employees must allow eligible employees to take up to 24 hours of leave in a 12-month period, with no more than four hours taken in any 30-day period, for the employee to:
- participate in school activities directly related to the academic educational advancement of the employee’s child, stepchild, foster child, or ward
- attend or accompany a family member to routine medical or dental appointments
- accompany the employee’s parent, spouse, or parent-in-law to appointments for professional services related to their care and well-being, and
- respond to a medical emergency involving a family member.
Vermont Flexible Working Arrangements Law
In 2014, Vermont enacted a law that gives employees the right to request a flexible working arrangement up to twice a year. Such an arrangment might involve a change in work hours (for example, to begin and end work later), working from home, changes to the number of hours or days an employee works, or sharing a job with another employee.
The employer doesn't have to grant the request, but it must consider it in light of a list of factors, including whether it will impose financial costs on the employer, whether it will affect employee morale, and whether it will have a negative impact on quality or performance. The employer is required to discuss the request with the employee, in good faith. And, the employer is required to let the employee know its ultimate decision. If the employee makes the request in writing, the employer's response must be written as well.
The law protects employees from retaliation for requesting flexible working arrangements.
For More Information
You can get information on Vermont’s leave laws at the website of the state attorney general.