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Public and Private Sector Employers:
- Vermont has a Parental and Family Leave law which covers both public and private employers.
- The Vermont law provides for two types of leave.
To qualify for either type of leave, an employee must:
- Be continuously employed for 12 months
- Have worked for at least 30 hours per week.
- "Parental leave" rules apply to employers with 10 or more employees.
- The employees must be employed for at least 30 hours per week.
Eligible employees may take 12 weeks of parental leave per year for:
- Pregnancy or for the birth of the employee's child.
- The placement of a child 16 years of age or younger with the employee for adoption.
- For parental leave, an employer may not ask for more than six weeks' advance notice of intent to take leave.
- "Family leave" rules apply to employers with at least 15 employees.
- Employees must have been employed for an average of at least 30 hours per week for one year.
Qualifying employees may take 12 weeks of family leave per year for the following reasons:
- Serious illness of the employee.
- Serious illness of the employee's child, stepchild, ward of the state who lives with the employee, foster child, parent, spouse, or parent of the employee’s spouse
Serious Heath Condition
Vermont defines a "serious illness" as an accident, disease, or physical or mental condition that:
- Poses imminent danger of death.
- Requires in-patient care in a hospital.
- Requires continuing in-house care under the direction of a physician.
- An employer may require certification from a physician to verify the condition and the amount of leave requested in the case of a serious illness.
Continuation of Benefits
- An employer must continue employment benefits for the duration of the leave.
- The continued benefits must be at the same level and under the same conditions as what would have been provided if the employee worked continuously for the length of the leave.
Substitution of Paid Leave
- An employee may substitute accrued paid sick or vacation leave for unpaid leave.
- This substitution may not exceed six weeks.
- Using accrued paid leave shall not extend the total leave period.
- When an employee returns from parental of family leave, he or she must be offered the same or a comparable job.
- The job provided must be at the same level of compensation, employment benefits, seniority, or any other term or condition of the employment that existed on the day leave began.
Reinstatement is not required if the employer can demonstrate clearly that:
- During the period of leave, the employee's job would have been terminated or the employee would have been laid off for reasons unrelated to the leave.
- The employee performed unique services, and hiring a permanent replacement during the leave was the only viable alternative to the employer to prevent "substantial and grievous economic injury to the employer's operation."
- Employers are forbidden to retaliate in any way against employees who lodge complaints under the family leave law
- Employers are forbidden to retaliate in any way against employees who assist in an investigation of a violation of the law.
Short-Term Family Leave
Employees are also entitled to take up to four hours of unpaid leave in a 30 day period, not to exceed 24 hours in a 12-month period, for the following reasons:
- To participate in school activities directly related to the educational career of the employee's child, stepchild, foster child.
- Ward to attend or accompany the employee's child, stepchild, foster child, or ward to routine medical or dental appointments.
- To accompany the employee's parent, spouse, or parent-in-law to professional services appointments related to their care and well-being.
- To respond to a medical emergency involving the employee's child, stepchild, foster child, or ward.
- Employers may require workers to take the above mentioned leave in two-hour segments and call on employees to make a "reasonable attempt" to schedule such appointments as described above outside of regular working hours.
- To take short-term family leave, employees must also provide employers with at least seven days; notice, unless there is an emergency.
- An "emergency" is defined as a circumstance that would cause the employee's family member to suffer a "significant adverse impact" if the seven-day notice requirement were enforced.
- Employees may substitute accrued paid vacation and personal leave for the unpaid short-term family leave.
Parties to a Civil Union
- In April 2000, the Vermont legislature enacted a law allowing homosexual couples to enter into "civil unions."
- A marriage in all but name, a civil union provides to same-sex partners in Vermont "all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law as granted to spouses in a marriage."
- Special note: Since Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, other states are not bound to recognize same-sex civil unions.
- Specifically, the terms of Vermont's Parental and Family Leave Law apply to partners in a civil union just as they do to married couples.
- Therefore, the "protections and responsibilities of spouses" in state law shall apply "in like manner to parties to a civil union."
These rights and responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:
- Family leave benefits.
- Adoption law and procedure.
- Group insurance for state employees.
- Prohibitions against discrimination based upon marital status.
- Workers compensation benefits.
- Laws relating to emergency and nonemergency medical care and treatment; hospital visitation and notification, and the state's Patient’s and Nursing Home Residents Bills of Rights.
- In addition, the law states that "the rights of parties to a civil union, with respect to a child of whom either becomes the natural parent during the term of the civil union, shall be the same as those of a married couple, with respect to a child of whom either spouse becomes the natural parent during the marriage."
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