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Vermont Gov. Signs Law Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave

March 16, 2016

As many as 60,000 Vermont workers, many of whom earn low wages, will soon be required to have access to paid sick leave under the terms of a new law, signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) on March 9.

Beginning Jan. 1, employees will begin to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 54 hours they work, for a maximum of 24 hours paid sick leave in 2017 and 2018. Starting in 2019, employees will be able to accrue 40 hours of paid leave per year.

“This action means thousands of families will no longer have to choose between losing income and taking care of a sick child,” President Obama said in a statement supporting the new Vermont law. “It’s a choice no one should have to make.”

Recent national studies show that low-wage workers — including direct-care workers — are less likely to have access to paid sick leave than workers who earn higher incomes.

The new law does not apply to people who work, on average, fewer than 18 hours weekly, or fewer than 20 weeks per year. Also exempt are per diem and intermittent employees.

The law is the culmination of a 10-year effort by labor and family advocates, according to the organization Voices for Vermont’s Children, which led the Vermont Earned Sick Days Coalition.

Other coalition members include AARP Vermont and Vermont Homecare United Local 4802, a recently formed union of personal care attendants affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Vermont is the fifth state to enact a law guaranteeing paid sick leave since 2011.

— by Matthew Ozga

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