In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the CDC has recommended that everyone take steps to protect themselves and their communities, including avoiding close contact with others. If you have to take time off work sick, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed or your work is closed, can you stay home with your children?
Find out more about your right to paid sick time in Vermont below. Please note that you may also have an additional right to emergency paid leave for COVID-19 purposes under federal law, as described in more detail here.
1) What does the Vermont Paid Sick Time law do?
It gives workers up to 40 hours of sick time a year, which can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; to accompany the worker’s parent, grandparent, spouse, or parent-in-law to an appointment related to that person’s long-term care; to care for a family member whose school or business where they’re usually located during the worker’s workday is closed for public health or safety reasons; or to address needs that may arise if the worker or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking.
2) Am I covered?
If you work as an employee in Vermont for an average of at least 18 hours per week during a year, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time or part-time worker. However, the law does not cover federal employees, certain state employees, workers under 18 years of age, workers for new businesses (those operating in the first 12 months after hiring their first worker), many temporary and seasonal workers (those who work 20 or fewer weeks in a year in a job not intended to last more than 20 weeks), certain per diem health care workers, and a few other narrow groups.
3) How much paid sick time can I earn?
You earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 52 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year.
All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).
4) What if my work or my child’s school or daycare is closed for a health emergency?
You can also use your sick time to care for a family member whose school or business where they’re usually located during your workday is closed for public health or safety reasons.
5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?
Under the law, you can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, spouse, parent, parent of a spouse, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.
6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?
If you already get any paid leave (vacation, paid time off, etc.) that you can use as sick time and it’s at least the same amount you would earn under this law, the law does not give you any additional paid time off.
7) When can I begin using my sick time?
You start earning sick time immediately or when your employer becomes covered by the law, whichever is later. However, you cannot use your sick time until 1 year after the start of your employment.
8) Do I need a doctor’s note?
You employer may require you to give proof that you’re using your sick time for one of the reasons stated in the answer to question 1.
All covered workers are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting sick or safe time. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal clinic at 1-833-NEED-ABB.
The Vermont Department of Labor is in charge of enforcing this law.
Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time law described, and it does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that additional provisions not described in this fact sheet may apply to a worker’s specific circumstances or category of employment.
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