New Year, New Leave Updates: Snapshot of Domestic Violence Leave Laws

Believably or unbelievably not all states have passed laws providing time off from work to victims of domestic or sexual violence. This, while a February 2008 CDC report indicates that, in the U.S., nearly one in four women report experiencing violence by a current or former partner at some point in their life. Whether for the employee or a child/dependent of the employee, a need exists to take time off when events of this nature occur. This need for time off is driven by five general purposes.

  • Counseling
  • Victim services
  • Actions ensuring the victim’s health and safety
  • Medical treatment associated with recovery from injury
  • Legal action related to civil and criminal proceedings

As recent as March of 2013, the Security and Financial Empowerment Act bill was proposed at the federal level in order to guarantee employees can take time off for these same five reasons, when either the employee or the employee’s family or household member is a victim of domestic/dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. If passed, this legislation would provide a benefit of 30 days of emergency leave in any 12 month period. The employee would also be protected against discrimination and job loss, while the employer could require certification that the employee is unable to return to work because of the violence.

For those states which haven’t proposed or passed this type of law, they need look no further than the state of Oregon, which recently made an eligibility change to the Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking protections. Prior to the change the following were eligibility guidelines:

  1. Covered employers must have 6 employees in Oregon
  2. Protected employees worked at least 25 hours a week
  3. Protected employees were employed at least 180 days prior to requesting leave

As of January 1, 2014, eligibility was expanded with elimination of the second two bullets so that all employees of any covered employer with at least 6 employees in Oregon are protected.

The number of states with laws protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence is only going to grow. You need to ask yourself, ‘How many states do my employees work in, which have this and other crime victim law leave time benefits?’ If tracking leave time is becoming excessively cumbersome, then consider software tools which can track this type of crime victim leave time along with other family medical, military, emergency responder, organ/blood donor or parental leave. With the complexities of individual state laws in conjunction with corresponding existing/future federal laws, tracking leave time will only become more complicated and complex in the near future.

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