Employees are entitled to up to twenty days of unpaid leave if they, their child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Each incident of violence entitles the employee to leave, but in no case is the employee entitled to more than twenty days of leave in a twelve month period.
The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (New Jersey SAFE Act) applies to both public employers and private employers, but it does not apply to a company who has less than twenty-five employees. In order to be eligible, you must have worked at least the last twelve months and worked at least 1,000 hours during that period.
An employee who is eligible can use their leave in a consecutive twenty day period, but are not required to do so. You can spread out the leave over the course of the twelve months following the incident. However, the leave time is available only for the following purposes:
- To seek legal services or remedies to protect the health and safety of the victim;
- To obtain services from a victim service organization;
- To obtain counseling or other psychological care;
- To relocate or otherwise protect the safety of the victim from future acts of domestic or sexual violence;
- Ensure economic security; and/or
- To prepare for, attend or otherwise participate in civil or criminal proceedings relating to the incident.
An employer can demand that you provide documentation verifying your request. Documentation would be a restraining order, letter from the prosecutor, documentation of the criminal charge or conviction of the incident, a certification from a crisis center or domestic violence agency or documentation from a social worker or other professional who is helping the victim.
If an employer requests this information, they must maintain the highest level of confidentiality and disclosure is only permitted where it is required by federal or state law.
If you are being denied the leave you believe you are entitled to under the NJ SAFE Act, Attorneys Hartman, Chartered can help. Call or email Katherine Hartman at 856-235-0220 or [email protected].