The Senate is expected to take up H.187, requiring Vermont employers to provide paid leave, this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. The Senate Economic Development Committee approved an amended version of the bill this Thursday. The bill remains largely unchanged in its core provisions from the version passed by the House last year, and AIV and allied organizations will be seeking further amendments on the Senate floor next week. Employer outreach to Senators will be critical if any additional changes are to be made.
The following are the core provisions of the bill as it is coming to the Senate floor:
- Employers of all sizes must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick, family, and domestic violence leave in a 12 month period to employees working an average of 18 hours a week (the cap is 24 hours of paid leave in 2017 and 2018)
- Leave accrues at one hour every 52 hours worked, and unused leave will roll over into following years but can only be used up to the annual limit.
- Although accrual of leave starts immediately, an employer can impose a waiting period of up to one year before a new hire can start using accrued leave.
- An employer can provide paid personal or combined time off or some other form of general paid leave to satisfy the requirements of the law so long as the leave is available for sick, family, and domestic violence purposes.
Additional details include:
- Certain seasonal workers, employees aged 18 and younger, and workers with significant control over their own work schedules are not covered.
- New companies have a one year grace period from the date of their first hire before they must comply with the bill’s requirements.
- The bill does not apply to existing collective bargaining agreements in effect before January 1, 2017.
- The bill takes effect January 1, 2017, and employers may apply the one-year waiting period for new hires before leave can be used to existing employees starting on that date.
During its consideration of the bill over the last few days, the Committee considered and rejected a number of amendments recommended by AIV and other employer groups, including providing an exemption for employers with 15 or fewer employees (modeled on existing Vermont family leave law), limiting the maximum leave to three days annually, excluding part time employees at a higher threshold than 18 hours weekly, a longer grace period for new companies, and excluding collective bargaining agreements that explicitly agree to less paid leave.
As indicated above, however, we were successful in getting some exemptions for part time workers, student workers, workers controlling their own schedules, and new companies. AIV also secured clarifications on limiting the use of accrued leave from previously years, making clear that an employee that exhausts combined time off or some other qualifying leave for other purposes (e.g., using all available paid leave for vacation) is not entitled to claim additional paid sick or other leave, and protecting existing collective bargaining agreements.
AIV continues to oppose this bill and we will also be continuing to work for amendments addressing core issues, including exemptions for small businesses and limiting the amount of mandatory leave, as the bill is debated on the Senate floor early next week. If you are interested in more information or in contacting your senators about this bill, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about your options, or to identify and contact your senators directly, click here.