As in many other states, Virginia has employment laws that offer employees greater protection than those afforded by federal employment law. For example, although the state generally follows federal laws that apply to occupational safety and minimum wage, it offers broader anti-discrimination coverage for smaller employers.
Here is a look at some of the most important employment laws that affect the relationship between employers and employees in Virginia. There may also be municipal regulations that must be followed in addition to state and federal requirements.
Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunities
The Virginia Human Rights Act states that employers cannot discriminate against employees on account of their marital status, race, religion, gender, gender identity, age, military status, sexual orientation or disabilities.
For the purposes of this law, affected employers are those that have 15 or more employees. Those employers with six or more employees are required to offer individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause them an undue hardship.
The Virginians with Disabilities Act has a specific regulation that bars employers from discriminating against any qualified individuals because of their disabilities. This applies to employers of all sizes and offers protection to those with physical or mental impairments that significantly limit major life activity.
The Virginia Human Rights Act also requires every employer who has five or more employees to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth and lactation. This may include offering employees breaks and access to a private location for expressing breast milk, modifying employee seating, lighter duty assignments, longer or more frequent bathroom breaks, or leave for recovering from childbirth.
In Virginia, men and women must receive equal compensation for work that requires an equal amount of effort, skill and responsibility as long as the work is performed in similar working conditions. However, the law stops short of banning pay differentials that are based on nondiscriminatory factors such as merit systems or seniority.
During the processes of recruiting new employees, employers in the state of Virginia are not permitted to obtain applicants’ criminal conviction histories directly, but they can ask about it and ask the applicant to provide it to them. A background check may be conducted by an employer upon acceptance of a conditional offer.
Virginia employers must pay their employees a minimum wage of $12 per hour, which will gradually rise to $15 per hour in 2026 and will be adjusted for inflation each year beginning in 2027. However, employers can claim a credit for the tips that employees receive.
Those employees who are participating in an established job training program may be paid a training wage that is on par with the federal minimum wage or three-fourths of the state’s minimum wage, whichever is greater. This is only allowed during the employee’s first 90 days of employment.
Virginia has several labor laws specifically to protect minors. These laws restrict the times during which minors are allowed to work, as well as the total number of hours they can work.
State law prohibits employers from hiring minors for roles that will expose them to recognized hazards as well as working in situations in which their morals, health or life could be in danger. Those under the age of 18 cannot work in occupations involving mines, quarries or exposure to radioactive substances, nor can they work in places where alcoholic goods are manufactured or sold.
Those under age 16 cannot work during school hours, or for more than 18 hours per week while school is in session; the maximum is 40 hours per week when school is not in session. They are also restricted from working more than three hours on school days and more than eight hours on days on which school is not in session. In addition, they cannot work before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm.
The Virginia Overtime Wage Act states that covered employers must compensate any nonexempt employees at a rate of at least 1.5 times their normal rate of pay for hours worked that exceed 40 hours in a given work week.
Leaves of Absence
Virginia laws covering all employers outline required time off and leaves of absence for employees for purposes such as military leave, crime victim leave, election official leave, jury duty leave and court appearance leave.
Ensure Your Business Is Compliant With Virginia’s Employment Laws
Employment laws provide employees with valuable protections, and those employers who fail to comply may be ordered to pay steep fines and penalties. To ensure your business remains up-to-date and fully compliant, contact the employment experts at Business Benefits Group (BBG) to schedule a consultation.