Would Allow Unpaid Leave For Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D – Gloucester, Camden) that would provide unpaid leave for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“The horrors of domestic violence or sexual assault don’t simply stop because someone has to go to work. They can have devastating, long lasting impacts. That is why it is crucial we pass this legislation. Allowing victims or their families the time they need to try and get their lives together is a matter of simple, common decency,” said Madden.
The bill, S2177, also know as the “New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act” or the “NJ SAFE Act,” would provide 20 days of unpaid leave time to an employee who is the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault or whose family or household member was the victim. The leave could be taken within one year of the incident.
Leave time would allow the employee (or the family member of the employee) to: seek medical attention for physical or psychological injuries; obtain services from a victim services organization; obtain psychological or other counseling; participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase their safety; seek legal assistance; and attend, participate in, or prepare for a criminal or civil court proceeding.
According to Legal Momentum, an advocacy group, victims of domestic violence lose an average of 137 hours of work a year. Some victims need time off to seek medical attention, seek a restraining order, or relocate to a safe place. Others are prevented from getting to work when an abuser disables or takes the car, sabotages childcare arrangements, or leaves the victim without cash to use public transportation. These problems have led 11 states, including California, Florida, Illinois, and Washington, and the District of Columbia, to enact laws providing victims of or witnesses to domestic violence the right to take some time off work.
The bill now heads to the full Senate.