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Quick and Easy Guide to Labor & Employment Law: Utah

This state-specific guide covers labor and employment case law, statutes, rules, and regulations that HR professionals and clients often encounter or have questions about in Utah.

At-Will Employment

Utah is an employment-at-will state, which means that, in the absence of a written employment agreement or a collective bargaining agreement, either the employer or the employee may terminate employment for any reason that is not contrary to law. Touchard v. La-Z-Boy Inc., 148 P.3d 945, 948 (Utah 2006).

Utah recognizes exceptions for a wrongful discharge claim when an employee's termination clearly violates public policy, including:

Right-to-Work Law

Under Utah law, private and public employees cannot be denied or diminished employment on the basis of membership or non-membership in a labor union, organization or any other type of association. Utah Code § 34-34-4.

Immigration Verification

Utah's E-Verify law requires Utah employers with 15 or more workers to enroll in E-Verify. Utah Code § 13-47-201.

Drug Testing

The Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act (UDATA) governs pre-employment and employment drug and alcohol testing. The UDATA applies to all private employers in Utah. Utah Code § 34-38-2(4). Generally, employers may, but are not required, to test employees for drugs and alcohol if they comply with the UDATA. Employers that comply with the UDATA are protected from certain liability claims. Utah Code § 34-38-3. To comply with the UDATA, employers must:

  • Periodically test employers and management for drugs and alcohol. Utah Code § 34-38-3(1). Notably, however, the UDATA does not specify the frequency or circumstances for testing managers.
     
  • Have a written drug or alcohol testing policy that it distributes to employees and makes available for review by prospective employees. Utah Code § 34-38-7(1).
     
  • Not rely on inaccurate results to take action against an employee in bad faith. Utah Code § 34-38-10(2).

Under the UDATA, any drug or alcohol testing must occur either during or immediately after the employee's regular work period, be deemed work-time for compensation purposes and be paid for by the employer. Utah Code § 34-38-5.

Jury Duty Leave

Under Utah law, an employer is not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury. Utah Code § 78B-1-116. However, an employer may not discharge, threaten, take any adverse employment action or otherwise coerce an employee because the employee receives and/or responds to a summons, serves as a juror or attends court for prospective jury. Utah Code § 78B-1-116.

Utah law also does not employers to require or request an employee to use annual, vacation or sick leave for time spent responding to a summons for jury duty, time spent participating in the jury selection process or for time spent actually serving on a jury. Utah Code § 78B-1-116.

Voting Leave

Utah law requires an employer to provide an employee with up to two hours paid time off to vote if the employee does not have three or more consecutive off-duty hours in which to vote while polls are open. Utah Code § 20A-3a-105. An employer may require an employee to request voting leave at least one day before the election. An employer may dictate when an employee may take paid voting leave, except an employer must grant an employee's request to take voting leave either beginning or ending of the employee's shift. Utah Code § 20A-3a-105.

Parental Leave

The State of Utah does not require an employer to offer to its employees parental leave. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified medical or family reasons under certain circumstances.

Vacation, Sick and Bereavement Leave

Utah laws does not require private employers to provide employees with vacation, bereavement or sick leave, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. However, employers are subject to the federal Family Medical Leave Act and its requirements.

Smoking Laws

The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (UICAA) prohibits the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes in indoor places of public access, including workplaces, subject to a few limited exceptions. Specifically, smoking is prohibited in "any enclosed indoor place of business, commerce, banking, financial service or other service-related activity, whether publicly or privately owned." Utah Code Ann. § 26-38-2(2). Smoking is also not permitted in a "workplace that is not a place of public access or a publicly owned building or office but has one or more employees who" do not own the business. Utah Code Ann. § 26-38-2(2).

The following workplaces are exempt from ban on smoking: owner-operated business that has no employees, other than the owner, so long as the public usually don't enter the area; smoking areas in Salt Lake City International Airport; smoking rooms in hotels/motels; hookah bars; and retail locations that generate at least 75 percent of their gross revenues from the sale of e-cigarettes. Utah Code Ann. § 26-38-3(2). Employers are not required to provide designated smoking areas in Utah.

Break Time to Express Milk

Utah Antidiscrimination Act (UAA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related conditions unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer's operations. Utah Code § 34A-5-106 (1)(g).

Employers are also prohibited from requiring an employee from terminating her employment if an alternative reasonable accommodation may be provided for the employee's pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related conditions unless the requested accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer's operations. Utah Code § 34A-5-106 (1)(g). An employer is also prohibited from denying employment opportunities to an employee because it would be required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related conditions, unless the accommodations would create an undue hardship. Utah Code § 34A-5-106 (1)(g). Employers are required to post in a conspicuous place at the worksite and/or include in the employee handbook written notice of employees' rights to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related conditions. Utah Code § 34A-5-106(1)(e).

Meal Breaks

Utah law requires employers to provide a meal period of not less than 30 minutes to employees under the age of 18 scheduled to work more than five hours. If, during the meal period, the employee cannot be completely relieved of all duties and permitted to leave the work station or area, the meal period must be paid as time worked. Utah Admin. Code R610-2-3.

Employers must provide a paid rest break of at least ten minutes to employees under the age of 18 for every three hour period or part thereof that is worked. Utah Admin. Code R610-2-3. Utah does not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers 18 years old or older.

Minimum Wage, Overtime and Wage Recordkeeping

Utah set minimum wage for nonexempt employees at not less than $7.25 per hour. Utah Code § 34-40-103; Utah Admin. Code r. 610-1-3. Utah does not have overtime requirements except for employees working on public works projects. For more information on overtime requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa.

Employers must keep payroll records of employees covered by the Utah Minimum Wage Act showing names, addresses, dates of birth, hours worked and wages paid. Utah Code § 34-40-201. Employers must maintain these records for three years. Utah Code § 34-40-201.

Employers must keep a true and accurate record of time worked and wages paid to employees working on an hourly or a daily basis. Utah Code § 34-28-10. Employers must keep the records on file for at least one year. Utah Code § 34-28-10.

Final Payments

Utah law requires employers to pay employees who are terminated or laid off from employment their unpaid wages within 24 hours after the time of separation. Utah Code § 34-28-5(1). An employer meets the 24-hour time frame if the employer either (1) mails the wages to the employee, and the envelope that contains the wages is postmarked with a date that is no more than one day after the day on which the employer separates the employee from the employer's payroll, or (2) within 24 hours after the employer separates the employee from the employer's payroll, the employer initiates a direct deposit of the wages into the employee's account or hand delivers the wages to the employee. Utah Code § 34-28-5(1).

If an employer fails to pay wages due an employee within 24 hours after the employee has provided a written demand, the employer is required to continue to pay the employee wages from the date of demand until paid, up to 60 days, at the same rate that the employee received at the time of separation. Utah Code § 34-28-5(1). An employee may recover the owed wages by pursuing a civil action within 60 days from the date of separation. However, if the employee fails to make a written demand on the employer for the employee's final payment of wages, the employee may not recover the penalty provided for under the statute. Utah Code § 34-28-5(1)(c).

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance benefits provide income to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. These benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages while an unemployed worker searches for suitable work or until an employer can recall the employee to work. Nothing is deducted from the employee's wages to pay for this coverage. Unemployment benefits are administered by the State Department of Labor, and additional information regarding the benefits may be accessed at jobs.utah.gov/ui/home.

Workers' Compensation

The Utah Workers' Compensation Act applies to every employer in Utah who regularly employs one or more workers or operatives in the same business, or in or about the same establishment, under an oral or written contract of hire. Utah Code § 34A-2-103(2)(a). This includes independent contractors, a client under a professional employer organization agreement; any sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, limited liability company or similar organization that procures work to be done by a contractor; or the client of a labor service or temp agency who employs loaned workers. Utah Code § 34A-2-103(2), (3)(a), (7).

Employees who suffer injuries and/or occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of their employment may be eligible to receive several types of benefits under the Act. Under the Act, a workplace injury must be promptly reported to the employer; failure to timely report an injury may result in a denial of benefits. The Act is administered by the State Board of Workers' Compensation, and additional information regarding the Act may be accessed at insurance.utah.gov/consumer/other/workers-comp.

Child Labor

The legal age to work in Utah is 14 years of age. Utah child labor laws state that children who are 14 years of age may work non-hazardous jobs like retail sales, restaurant work or office work. Utah Code § 34-23-201.

Employers cannot require minors under the age of 16 to work during school hours, work more than four hours before and after school hours, work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period, work between 9:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., unless the next day is not a school day. Utah Code § 34-23-202. Minors under the age of 16 are not permitted to work more than 40 hours in a week. Utah Code § 34-23-202. Minors who are 16 years old may work four hours on a school day and until 9:30 p.m. year-round (unless the next day is not a school day in which they can work after 9:30 p.m.). Minors who are age 16 may not work more than four days a week. Utah Code § 34-23-203. Minors who are age 17 may work four hours on a school day and until 9:30 p.m. year-round, unless the next day is not a school day in which they can work after 9:30 p.m. Utah Code § 34-23-203. Minors who are age 17 may not work more than four days a week. Utah Code § 34-23-203.

Gun Laws

Under Utah law, private employers cannot establish, maintain, or enforce any policy or rule that prohibits a person with a valid concealed handgun license from storing the firearm or ammunition in the person's privately owned motor vehicle parked in a permitted location on the employer's property. An employer may require that employees lock firearm and ammunition in the trunk, glove box or another enclosed compartment or container within the privately owned vehicle. Utah Code § 34-45-103. There is an exemption to this law that applies to Utah public employers. Utah Code § 34-45-107.

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Guide last updated July 2021.

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