Twenty-one percent of adults employed full-time are survivors of domestic violence. The safety and well-being of workers experiencing domestic violence is further jeopardized when they must forego wages or risk losing a job in order to protect themselves and their families.
Fortunately, a growing number of jurisdictions are recognizing the need for paid safe leave, to ensure workers don’t have to make the impossible choice between their physical safety and their economic security. In 11 states, 16 cities, and 3 countries, paid sick time laws contain “safe time” provisions to protect workers when they or their family members are victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. While all workers covered by earned sick time laws can use that time to address medical needs resulting from domestic violence, the inclusion of safe leave allows a worker to address other needs related to their or a family member’s abuse, such as obtaining a protective order, accessing social services, or relocating.
As more cities and states pass paid sick and safe time laws that provide short-term time off, momentum on this issue is growing within our paid family and medical leave work as well. Recently-passed paid family and medical leave laws in Oregon and Connecticut include the right to benefits during more extended time off to address domestic or sexual violence. New Jersey also expanded its existing program to include paid benefits for workers taking time away from work in relation to sexual or domestic violence, and we hope more states follow suit.
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let’s demand laws ensuring access to paid safe leave for survivors of domestic violence everywhere. We’re proud to fight to make this a reality, today and every day.