Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Vermont

Vermont's Family and Parental Leave Law and the FMLA give employees in Vermont the right to take time off for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Vermont's Family and Parental Leave law gives employees the right to take time off for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also gives covered employees the right to take unpaid leave for these reasons.

In addition, two federal laws prohibit your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which might give you the right to take time off work in some cases.

Vermont also has a voluntary paid leave program that some employees can take advantage of. Read on to learn more about this new program and all your rights under Vermont's maternity and parental leave laws.

Taking Time Off During Pregnancy in Vermont

There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave:

  • laws that protect your job when you take pregnancy leave, and
  • laws banning pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Pregnancy Leave Under Vermont's Parental Leave Law

In Vermont, state law requires employers with 10 or more employees to let employees take time off work for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. (Vt. Stat. tit. 21 § 471(4).) Employees are eligible for leave if they've been continuously employed by their employer for at least one year, for an average of 30 hours or more per week.

Under the law, employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a one-year period for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting combined. (Vt. Stat. tit. 21 § 472(a).) So, if your employer is too small to be covered by the FMLA (see below), you can still be entitled to time off under Vermont law.

Family and Medical Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked for your employer for:

  • at least 12 months, and
  • at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before your leave begins.

The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for serious health conditions (including pregnancy) and parenting leave. (29 CFR § 825.100.)

If you qualify, you can use the FMLA to take time off when you can't work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. (Learn more about using your FMLA leave intermittently during pregnancy.)

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in Vermont

Two federal discrimination laws protect pregnant workers in Vermont:

  • the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and
  • the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).

Both laws apply to all employers with at least 15 employees, including federal, state, and local governments.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy. While it doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work, it does require employers to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy the same as other employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k).)

For example, if your company lets employees take time off for temporary illnesses and injuries—like a heart attack or broken bone—then it must allow you to take the same time off when you can't work because of your pregnancy.

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) also doesn't specifically provide for time off work when you're pregnant. But it gives pregnant employees the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, which can include time off work. Under the law, time off work is a reasonable accommodation for pregnant employees when medically necessary. (42 U.S.C. § 2000gg-1.)

(Learn when you might be entitled to take time off work as reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).)

Parenting Leave in Vermont

Employees covered by Vermont's parental and family leave law and/or the FMLA have the right to take time off when they have a baby. Both laws apply to parents of all genders.

Parenting Leave Under Vermont State Law

Vermont's parental and family leave law gives parents the right to take time off to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child. This parental leave is part of your total 12-week leave entitlement. So, if you use four weeks of leave during your pregnancy, you'll have eight weeks left for parenting leave.

Under the state law, when you return from parental leave, your employer must give you the same job you had before taking leave or an equivalent position—with the same pay, benefits, seniority, and other terms of employment as you had when your leave began. (Vt. Stat. tit. 21 § 472(f).)

Parenting Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA works the same way. You have 12 weeks off work to divide between your pregnancy leave, parental leave, and any other family or medical leave you take during that 12-month period.

Leave Limitations When Parents Work for the Same Employer

If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. So, if you use eight weeks of FMLA leave for parenting, your spouse would have only four weeks of FMLA parental leave available. (Note that this rule doesn't apply to unmarried couples.)

Whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition. Vermont's parental and family leave law doesn't include this restriction.

Part-Time or Reduced Schedule Leave in Vermont

The FMLA allows employees to take pregnancy leave intermittently if it's medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up, you don't have to take a whole day off. Instead, you can use a couple of hours of your leave and then go back to work.

For parental leave, however, the rules are different. If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time, your employer must agree to it. You aren't automatically entitled to use FMLA parental leave intermittently. If your employer does agree to let you take time off intermittently, you must finish your FMLA parental leave within one year after your child's arrival.

Vermont law says that employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks off. The law doesn't state that employees must use all their leave in one go. Vermont's information guide about the law states that the short-term leave provision of the state parental and family leave law allows employees to use intermittent leave under the same circumstances as the FMLA.

Vermont's New Paid Leave Law

Vermont has a new voluntary paid leave program that is being phased in from 2023 to 2025. The new Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance Plan (VT-FMLI) covers up to six weeks of paid leave (at 60% of the employee's weekly wage) for the birth (or adoption) of a child.

  • As of July 1, 2023, state employees in Vermont were covered under the law.
  • On July 1, 2024, other Vermont-based employers with at least two employees can elect to join the plan.
  • On July 1, 2025, companies with one employee and self-employed people will have the option to join the plan.

Learn more about the VT-FMLI program.

Getting Paid During Your Time Off Without the Paid Leave Program

Leave taken under Vermont's Family and Parental Leave Law and the FMLA is unpaid. If your employer won't provide paid leave under the new voluntary paid leave plan, your company might already offer benefits like:

  • company maternity and paternity leave benefits
  • company parental benefits, or
  • group short-term disability insurance.

You can always ask to use accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off, if you have any available. Vermont law states that employers must allow employees to use their accrued paid leave for up to six weeks of their time off. (Vt. Stat. tit. 21 § 472(b).) Employers can, but aren't required to, allow employees to use more paid leave if they've accrued more. (And your employer might actually require you to use accrued paid time off for your leave.)

Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of paid leave are available to you. If the answer is, "Not much," you might want to buy private short-term disability insurance for pregnancy.

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