With the New Year comes new laws and in Vermont there are a few you’ll want to know about. One of the biggest changes will impact Vermont businesses.
Mandatory paid sick leave has been an ongoing debate in Vermont for several years, but the debate was silenced during this year’s legislative session when a bill passed.
Stephanie Hainley is a business woman in Chittenden County and has spent four years advocating the mandate in Montpelier.
“We are not the first state to do this but we are a leading state in making this a reality for local businesses and families,” said Hainley.
The new law requires all businesses to give employees three paid sick days a year, starting in 2019 the requirement will be bumped to five days of paid sick leave.
Hainley said, “Now 60,000 Vermonters now have access to paid time off for when they’re sick and to take care of responsibilities at home and in the workplace is a huge benefit to our economy and our friends and neighbors.”
However concern is growing for some over the new law.
“We don’t necessarily like the additional burden or additional mandates on employers but we do understand that it is a valuable benefit,” said Erin Sigrist. President-Elect Vermont Retail & Grocers Association.
Opponents say the new law will strain the smaller businesses across the state that are already struggling to make ends meet.
Sigrist said, “They do operate on such small margins whether you’re a large or small business your margins are always so much smaller than many people on the outside world would anticipate.”
Hainley argues that when you look at the mandate as a whole, the impacts on small businesses including her own will be minimal.
“Truthfully there is a negligible cost in the longer term that it is a longer term investment into your workforce that will have repeat benefits in terms of productivity and again retention,” explained Hainley.
Also on the first, Vermonters earning minimum wage will notice an extra 40 cents an hour tacked onto their paycheck as minimum wage hits ten dollars.