Employers may provide their employees with various types of paid or unpaid leave as part of their overall employee benefits packages, including vacation time, personal leave and sick leave. Employers have some flexibility when it comes to establishing or negotiating employee leave policies. However, Utah employers must comply with state employment laws requiring employee leave for specific purposes.
Employers must also follow federal laws not addressed here that require employee leave, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Employers are not required to provide vacation pay, personal leave or sick leave (other than FMLA) beyond what is listed below, but most employers choose to offer some type of paid time off to employees. If employers do offer paid time off of any kind to employees, they should have a written policy and follow that policy. Under Utah law, vacation leave, holiday leave, sick leave, paid time off are treated as wages. Typically, an employer must pay the employee for any accrued, unused leave time upon termination unless the employer specifically implements a “use it or lose it policy.” The policy must explicitly state that an employee will not get paid for his or her leave if the leave is not used before employment is terminated. Having a clear written policy will protect employers from unnecessary wage claims down the road.
The list below provides a high-level overview of Utah’s employee leave laws:
Jury duty leave
Employers must allow employees unpaid leave to respond to a jury summons, serve as a juror or grand juror, or attend court for prospective jury service. An employer may not threaten or take adverse employment action against an employee who takes leave for jury duty. Also, an employer cannot require an employee to use annual, vacation or sick leave to cover the time spent responding to a jury summons, participating in the selection process, or serving on a jury.
Employers must allow employees two hours of paid leave to vote on an election day if the employee applied for leave prior to the election day. However, leave is not available to an employee whose work schedule allows for three or more hours of non-work time when the polls are open. Employers may specify the hours during which the employee may leave to vote. If the employee requests the leave at the beginning or end of their work shift, the employer must grant that request.
Reserve member of the Armed Forces leave
In addition to USERRA, Utah law provides the following job protections for members of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces:
- Reserve members must be granted leave due to U.S. active duty, training, or state active duty for no more than five years.
- Reemployment upon satisfactory release with the seniority, status, pay, and vacation time the employee would have had if not absent for military purposes.
Leave for emergency services volunteers
Employers must give unpaid leave to employees who are emergency services volunteers while they respond to emergencies. Employers cannot terminate employees because they are emergency services volunteers. “Emergency services volunteers” are volunteer firefighters, licensed emergency medical service personnel, and individuals mobilized as part of a posse comitatus.
Employers may request a written statement from the employee’s emergency services supervisor stating the time and date of the employee’s response as an emergency services volunteer.
Employees must make a reasonable effort to notify their employers of any absence from or tardiness to work because of their emergency response.
Please note: The information in this article focuses on statewide laws. Employers are advised that cities, towns and counties across the country have also enacted ordinances that require employers to provide employee leave. Employers must generally comply with both local and statewide laws where they apply.
For more information on Utah employer laws, click either of the buttons below.Wage Laws Guide Overtime Laws Guide
Disclaimer: This guide is meant as a starting point for compliance by Helpside’s clients. As such, Helpside has not created it to apply to a client’s particular circumstances. Thus, the content should not be regarded as legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem, clients are advised to seek specific advice. Finally, please note that relevant laws may change after publication.