NJ Safe Act Allows Time Off For Domestic Violence Or Sexual Assault Victims [AUDIO]
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. The measure has been approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
State Senator Fred Madden sponsors the measure. He says 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; attend, participate in, or prepare for a criminal or civil court proceeding.
"The horrors of domestic violence or sexual assault don't simply stop because someone has to go to work," says Madden. "They can have devastating, long lasting impacts. That is why it is crucial we pass this legislation. Allowing victims or the families the time they need to try and get their lives together is a matter of simple, common decency."
The bill also guarantees that the job will be held when a victim or family takes the leave. Under the legislation "family member" is defined as a spouse, a parent or a child.
Madden says that 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.