by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant and Legal Counsel
& Gail Cohen, Esq. - Assistant General Counsel, Employment and Litigation
November 09, 2017
Identical bills that propose significant leave of absence rights and job protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking were introduced simultaneously in the US Senate and House of Representatives on October 31, 2017. If passed, the bills (S 2043 and H 4198) will require employers to provide up to 30 days of job protected and partially paid “Safe Leave” for victims – referred to as “survivors” – of these abusive personal crimes.
Startling statistics. The bills provide some eye-opening Congressional findings regarding the impacts of these crimes:
- Studies indicate that one of the best predictors of whether a survivor will be able to stay
away from his or her abuser is the degree of his or her economic independence. However,
domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking often negatively impact
a survivor’s ability to maintain employment.
- Survivors of severe intimate partner violence lose nearly 8,000,000 days of paid work,
which is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5,600,000 days
of household productivity each year.
- Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the United States have suffered sexual violence,
physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
- Annual costs of intimate partner violence are estimated to be more than $8,300,000,000
in direct costs of medical and mental health care and indirect costs of lost productivity.
Based on these statistics and more, the goal of the bills is “to empower survivors of domestic violence,
dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to be free from violence, hardship, and control, which
restrains basic human rights to freedom and safety in the United States.”
|Several states have similar laws for the protection of victims of such personal crimes, although none of them contain pay provisions. The passage of the most recent of such laws in Nevada prompted our prior blog post on these leave laws, in which we summarized the Nevada law and identified other states with similar laws: Leave rights for victims of domestic violence: Growing need, multi-state trend.
Summary of the bills’ provisions. Here is a rundown of the key provisions of the two bills. Several key
attributes of the leave rights are not specified in the bills, as noted below. We would expect that, if passed,
the Department of Labor regulations authorized by the bills would clarify these points.
Keep in mind that these were just introduced and are likely to go through changes as they are considered
by both houses. We will be watching their legislative journey and will report any updates on this blog.
|All employees – no eligibility requirements such as length of service or hours worked.
Includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees.
|Employers with 15 or more employees.
|Persons entitled to leave – “survivor”
|Employee who, personally or whose family or
household member, is experiencing or has experienced:
Collectively referred to as a “survivor.”
|“Family or household member”
|Leave can be used for the following activities related to the abuse, for the employee or the family or household member:
Seek medical attention;
|Amount of “Safe Leave”
|30 days in a 12-month period.
COMMENT: The bills do not specify whether
|Leave year calculation method
COMMENT: The applicable 12-month period for 30 days
|Leave usage methods
COMMENT: The FMLA allows usage as a continuous/ block
|Employee request for Save Leave
|Employer notice to employees
COMMENT: The bills do not require any form of
|An employee must be reinstated to the same
or an equivalent job upon return to work from
|Employers must maintain employees’ coverage
under any group health plan or employee welfare
benefit plan during Save Leave.
|Interaction with FMLA
|Safe Leave under the proposed laws will be
“in addition to any leave taken (directly or indirectly)”
under the FMLA, not to exceed 30 days in
a 12-month period.
|Interaction with other leave laws or employer policies
|An employee may substitute other leave available
pursuant to state or local law, a collective bargaining
agreement, or an employer program or plan for an
equivalent period of Safe Leave.
|The bills are quite detailed. At present some additional provisions include:
MATRIX CAN HELP! Matrix provides leave, disability, and accommodation management services to employers seeking a comprehensive and compliant solution to these complex employer obligations. We monitor the many leave laws being passed around the country and specialize in understanding how they work together. For leave management and accommodation assistance, contact us at [email protected].