The activities of the Vermont Department of Labor fall into five categories. This Department manages Vermont’s Unemployment Insurance and Workers Compensation programs and Work Safety/VOSHA requirements. The Labor Department also provides a number of workforce development, job training and recruitment programs. Last, the Department collects and disseminates economic and labor market information for the state.
The Labor Department had 2016 audited total expenditures of $ 30.6 million. This is below the $34.7 million included in the state’s final 2016 budget. Federal grants provide over 85% of total funding.
Unemployment Insurance is a mandatory insurance scheme providing benefits to workers who loose employment for no fault of their own. The program is funded by state and federal payroll taxes imposed on employers.
These payroll tax funds are managed on a fiduciary basis for the benefit of current and future unemployed workers. Vermont’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund has assets or approximately $221 million. In 2016, the state paid out $69.4 million in unemployment compensation benefits.
It would appear that Vermont’s Unemployment Insurance scheme is in good financial health.
Vermont law requires employers to provide worker’s compensation insurance coverage. In return, workers agree to accept the remedies available under Vermont law, but give up their rights to sue the employer for damages.
Worker’s Compensation covers work related injuries and occupational disease. It provides coverage for required medical services without time limit and, depending on the nature of the injury, temporary partial or full disability compensation.
Any disputes arising between the employer, employee and/or insurance provider are settled by Vermont’s Worker’s Compensation Division. This Division receives some 12,000 inquiries each year, of which about 1,500 cases request a final adjudication.
Fraud is a problem throughout the country in connection with Worker’s Compensation schemes. Some employers try to “hide” employees to avoid paying for coverage and some employees “invent” injuries to collect compensation.
Vermont Occupational Health & Safety (VOSHA)
VOSHA enforces workplace health and safety regulations and provides free assistance to employers that request help to meet these regulations.
In 2016, VOSHA completed 281 safety inspections and 112 health inspections. As you might imagine, 53% of all these inspections were in the residential and commercial construction business, with food processing, lumber and granite quarries all getting a fair amount of attention as well. 589 violations were issued in fiscal year 2016.
Employment & Workforce Development
The Department of Labor’s activities with respect to employment and workforce development are largely funded under two federal programs. The Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 set up the Employment Service to help match job seekers with available jobs. This funds Vermont’s job search and job placement efforts.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act provides funding for job training programs. The Vermont Labor Department targets three sets of individuals in particular: at-risk youth, adults receiving state financial assistance and adults who have been laid-off at no fault of their own. In all three of these categories, job training is often the key to new employment.
Economic and Labor Market Information
The Vermont Department of Labor publishes all sorts of information and reports regarding the state of the local economy and labor market. Average wages, the distribution of wages, unemployment levels, employment by industry, per capita income and demographic trends are all tracked on an accurate and consistent basis.
The Informed Vermonter relies heavily on the work they produce.