Survivors of Domestic Violence Need Paid Safe Leave

All workers deserve to be able to take the time they need to recover from traumatic events without sacrificing their economic security.
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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For survivors of domestic violence, assault, abuse, stalking, or harassment, recovering from a traumatic experience can be difficult enough without also having to worry about whether they’ll be forced to sacrifice their economic security to attend to their immediate health and safety needs. 

Many existing state and local paid sick time policies contain “safe leave” provisions to protect workers when they or their loved ones are victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. While all workers covered by paid sick time laws can use that time to address qualifying medical needs resulting from domestic violence, safe leave laws provide additional protection to address other needs related to a worker’s (or, depending on the law, a family member’s) abuse, like obtaining a protective order, accessing social services, or relocating. In recent years, 6 states have also passed paid family and medical leave insurance laws that provide–or will provide–benefits for workers who need to take safe leave under the program.

While these provisions can serve as a lifeline for workers who need to take time off work to recover from traumatic experiences, these protections should be a right for all workers nationwide. Congress must pass the federal Healthy Families Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act to make short-term paid sick time and more extended paid family and medical leave a right for workers across the country, so that nobody is forced to choose between their paycheck, and their ability to recover and stay safe and healthy. In the meantime, we remain committed to fighting for progress at the state and local level, and are heartened to see growing progress with each year.

For more information about your rights under state and local paid leave laws, contact our free and confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB. If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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