Employment Leave Bill Gains Traction
January 06, 2012
The Employment Leave Bill has been one of JDI's priority legislative proposals for many years. The bill would protect employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking from being penalized in the workplace for taking time off to address issues related to being a victim of such crimes. In short, the bill will provide that:
- businesses that employ more than fifty employees allow victims to take up to fifteen days of leave from work, with or without pay, if the employee, or a family or household member of such employee, is a victim of domestic violence, a victim of stalking, or a victim of sexual assault.
- leave could be used to address issues arising from domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault such as: obtaining a court order of protection; seeking medical attention, counseling, victim services, or legal assistance; securing housing; appearing in court as a witness; attending child custody proceedings; or consulting with a district attorney or other law enforcement official.
JDI supports this legislation because we recognize not only the effect that domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking can have on the safety of victims in and outside of the workplace, but also on their ability to maintain a job--often the only access to economic stability.
JDI presented Testimony on S918 Employment Leave Bill at a public hearing in the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on July 14, 2011. S918 was voted favorably out of committee on December 22, 2011 and sent to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The full Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday, January 12.
The vote was unanimously passed by the Senate last session, and no opposition has come forward. Still we cannot take anything for granted. Please take a minute to contact your local Senator and ask them to vote in favor of this critical legislation, explaining the importance of this legislation to victims and survivors.
Here are a few talking points on the bill:
- A victim should not have to choose between immediate health and safety and continued employment.
- Adoption of this legislation will help victims get the assistance they need without threatening the financial security and social support systems that their job provides.
- The 1997 National Violence Against Women Survey showed that 24 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 who had experienced domestic violence said that the abuse caused them to arrive late to work or miss days of work.
- A U.S. General Accounting Office review of three separate studies found that 44 to 60 percent of survey respondents said they had been reprimanded at work for behaviors related to the abuse.
- The same study also reported that between 24 to 52 percent of domestic violence victims surveyed reported they lost a job due, in part, to domestic violence.
- The Bureau of National Affairs has estimated that domestic violence costs employers $3 to $5 billion per year in lost days of work and reduced productivity.¹
¹Bureau of Nat'l Aff., Special Rep. No. 32, Violence and Stress: The Work/Family Connection 2 (1990).