Senator Madden Introduces NJ Safe Act

Bill Would Provide Employment Leave For Victims of Domestic Violence

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden which would provide unpaid employment leave time for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault has been introduced in the Senate.

“Domestic violence and sexual abusers assault their victims both physically and emotionally, and often, the emotional effects can linger for years,” said Senator Madden, D- Camden and Gloucester. “By getting employment leave time, these survivors would be able to get necessary medical attention, counseling, take days off to relocate and attend court hearings – all of which are critical to the healing process.”

Senator Madden’s bill, S-667, would create the “New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment” or “NJ SAFE Act,” and provide up to 20 days per calendar year of unpaid leave time as needed for victims of domestic or sexual violence.

Under the legislation, employees requesting leave time would be responsible for submitting documentation explaining the need for the leave. Acceptable forms of documentation would include domestic violence restraining orders and medical and police reports.

“If possible, employees needing to take the time would be asked to give their employers written notice. I am trying to help make this type of transition easier for employers as well. They lose money when employees have to call out, and if the absence is for a long period of time, it can place a financial hardship on small businesses,” said Senator Madden.

Employers found to be in violation of the bill’s provisions could be fined $1,000 for a first offense and $2,000 for subsequent offenses, and the employee would be reinstated to his or her position with all benefits and seniority rights. Employers would also have to award compensation for lost wages, and could be liable for legal fees.

“The original version of this bill was introduced last session, but it never went up for a vote. I reintroduced it this session because it is still a priority, and a leave time like this is necessary to help ease some of the emotional burden on survivors,” Senator Madden said.

This measure now awaits a vote by the Senate Labor Committee.

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