Overview of Vermont’s Parental Family Leave Act
Vermont’s Parental Family Leave Act (PFLA) provides three separate leave types for employees. Although the act separates leave into three distinct provisions, the law is very similar to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FLA) Parental Family Leave is split into Parental Leave, Family Leave, and Family Short Term Leave. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview for managers, human resources and payroll departments.
Navigating between Vermont’s PFLA and FMLA laws can be confusing. This is why some unfortunate employers in Vermont have recently found themselves at the wrong end of a five figure penalty for failing to comply with Vermont’s Parental Family Leave Act (PFLA).
Fortunately, SwipeClock provides software solutions that help businesses to stay and remain compliant with state and local leave laws, as well as other employee benefit laws.
Parental Family Leave provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period. Employees can split the 12 weeks between the different types of leave.
Vermont Parental Leave: Maternity Leave
Vermont’s Parental Leave replaced an earlier maternity leave law. Parental leave is for pregnant employees or employees who are new parents. All employers who have at least 10 employees who work 30 or more hours a week must provide parental leave.
In order for the employee to qualify, they must have worked for their employer at least 12 months and must have averaged 30 hours a week during that time.
Parental leave covers pregnant women, but not their spouses, and both parents for bonding purposes. Pregnant employees do not need to be medically disabled in order to take leave during pregnancy. If the pregnant mother is seriously ill during pregnancy, then her spouse can take short term family leave to attend medical appointments during the pregnancy.
Reasons for Taking Parental Leave
Employees can take parental leave during the employee’s own pregnancy. It is important to note that the pregnant employee does not have to be seriously ill to qualify for leave under Parental leave. It can be taken by both parents to bond with a newborn child up to 1 year old. Employees can also take parental leave to bond with a newly adopted child who is under the age of 16.
- During the employee’s own pregnancy
- To bond with a newborn child within the first 12 months
- To care for a newly adopted child up to the age of 16
Differences between Parental Leave and FMLA
One difference between parental leave and FMLA is the qualification to take leave. FMLA covers employers who have 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius instead of 10 or more employees. Those employees do not have to be located within Vermont. In addition, employees must have worked an average of 30 hours over the 12 months of employment. In a year, that breaks down to around 1,560 hours, which is a higher number of hours than FMLA’s 1,250 hours worked requirement. These differences mean that some employees who would not qualify for FMLA leave will still have Parental leave available to them.
An other difference is that while Parental leave allows for new parents to take time to bond with a new child or after the adoption of a child, it does not cover foster care. Parents who have a child placed with them through the foster care system would be able to take time off through FMLA, but would not be able to take time through Vermont’s Parental Leave.
Lastly, parental leave does not require pregnant employees to be seriously ill to take leave, but FMLA does. FMLA does not provide leave for pregnant women who do not have a serious vermont health condition. Women who choose to take parental leave during pregnancy who are not seriously ill would still have FMLA leave available to them after the birth of their child.
Some unfortunate employers in Vermont have recently found themselves at the wrong end of a five figure penalty for failing to comply with Vermont’s Parental Family Leave Act (PFLA).
Vermont Family Leave
Family Leave in Vermont is defined similarly to what FMLA calls Medical Leave. Employees can take family leave to care for themselves or a family member who is seriously ill. Family leave must be provided by employers who have at least 15 employees who work an average of 30 hours a week or more. That means that small employers with between 10 and 14 employees will have to provide parental leave, but not family leave. The employee qualifications for family leave are the same as parental leave which means that employees must work at least 12 months for their employer with an average time worked of 30 hours a week.
Family leave covers the employee’s child, stepchild, foster child, ward, parent, parent-in-law, spouse and civil union partner.
- Child, stepchild, foster child, ward
- Spouse and civil union partner
Under Family leave, a serious injury or health condition is considered nearly the same as under FMLA. In patient care, hospice, or continuous care of a health care provider are requirements of a serious illness or injury. Under Vermont law, serious illness could be interpreted more broadly than under FMLA. Any patient who requires in-home care under the direction of a physician could be considered seriously ill.
Differences between Family Leave and FMLA
In addition to the differences noted under Parental Leave, Family Leave provides coverage for the employee’s parent-in-laws. FMLA does not provide leave for parent-in-laws. That means that employees who take leave for a parent-in-law would not be able to concurrently use FMLA leave and would still have additional FMLA available to them.
Similarly, Vermont’s Family Leave allows employees to take time off to care for an adult child while FMLA usually restricts child care to children under the age of 19 unless the child is unable to care for themselves.
In the same manner, FMLA does not recognize common law marriages while Vermont law does. Employees who take leave for their parent-in-law, adult child, or common law partner would only take family leave and not FMLA.
Another difference is in the definition of key employees. Key employees are the employees who do not receive job protection under FMLA or Vermont Parental Family Leave. Under Vermont law, key employees do essential tasks that are one of a kind, rare or uncommon. The law requires that there be no one else to do the job and that the business cannot run effectively without someone doing the job. Under FMLA a key employee is someone who is among the highest 10% of the employees employed in the 75 mile radius.
The Vermont Parental Family Leave Act has no provisions for spouses to share leave. This is different from FMLA, which requires that spouses working at the same employer share the 12 weeks of total leave each year. This means that under Vermont’s PFLA spouses at the same employer would have access to 12 week each.
The last major difference is that Vermont Family Leave does not have provisions related to a family member’s military service. FMLA provides up to 26 weeks a year if the employee is a family member or next of kin to a service member who was injured in the line of duty.
Vermont Short Term Family Leave
Short Term Family Leave provides leave time that is taken in increments of less than a full day of work. Employees can take up to four hours in a 30 day period. Employees are limited to a total of 24 hours in a 12 month period.
Short term family leave must be tracked separately from Family leave under Vermont law. Employees who take short term family leave to help a child who was hurt at school could also take family leave if the child is then hospitalized from the injury.
It provides a way for employees to take time to attend school events of their child. Employees can als go to routine doctor or dentist visits for themselves or a family member. They can take time to respond to emergencies with family members. In addition short term family leave can be used to to accompany a family member to appointments for professional services related to the family member’s well being. One example of those appointments would be interviewing for admission to a nursing home.
- Participate in preschool or school activities directly related to a family member’s academic achievement such as a parent teacher conference
- To go to the doctor or dentist’s routine appointment
- Go with a family member for a routine appointment at the doctor or dentist
- Respond to a medical emergency involving a family member
- Accompany a family member to an appointment for professional services related to the family member’s well being.
Employees are required to provide a 7 day notice when taking short term family leave. If the appointment or situation does not allow a 7 day leave and would cause harm to the family member, then it is considered an emergency under family leave.
Differences between Short Term Family Leave and FMLA
FMLA has no provisions that are similar to short term family leave. When an employee takes short term family leave, that leave is taken separately from FMLA leave. It will never run concurrently.
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Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act, Affordable Care Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.
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