Earned Sick Time Act - Finding Replacements

by William J. Pettersen on Jun. 11, 2019

Employment Employee Rights Employment  Wrongful Termination 

Summary: Despite the Vermont Earned Sick Time Act's (VESTA's) clear focus on the provision of earned sick time, effective January 1, 2017, it also includes the important prohibition that, if an employee calls out sick from work, an employer may not ask the employee to find his or her own replacement.

The Vermont Earned Sick Time Act ("VESTA") became effective on January 1, 2017. One might have assumed from the news surrounding VESTA at the time of its passing that its only purpose was to require employers to provide certain minimum amounts of earned sick time to employees--at least employees who worked an average of at least 18 hours per week for at least 21 weeks in a 12-month period, and who did not fall under a specific exempt category of employee.

 

Despite VESTA's clear focus on the provision of earned sick time, one very important requirement is somewhat hidden within the statute. Section 483(g) states that "[a]n employer shall not require an employee to find a replacement for absences, including absences for professional diagnostic, preventive, routine, or therapeutic health care." In other words, if an employee calls out sick from work, an employer may not ask the employee to find his or her own replacement.

 

Importantly, any violation of this requirement (or any other requirement set out in VESTA) is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 per violation, as well as any damages suffered by the employee. Additionally, VESTA has a retaliation clause, incorporating 21 V.S.A. § 397, which prohibits an employer from retaliating against any employee who complains about a violation of VESTA that has occurred. In the event of any retaliation, the law authorizes the employee to receive compensatory and punitive damages, restitution of wages and benefits, reinstatement, costs, reasonable attorney's fees, and equitable relief.

 

For these reasons, VESTA is more than it might have initially seemed, and it is important for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities set forth therein.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer

Lawyer.com is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on Lawyer.com is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by Lawyer.com. The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, Lawyer.com recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See Lawyer.com's full Terms of Use for more information.