To help commemorate National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) reintroduced the Domestic Violence Leave Act (H.R. 3151), legislation that would allow employees to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address acts of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking aimed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partner and same-sex spouse), parent or child.

The FMLA leave could be used to seek medical attention for injuries; obtain legal assistance or remedies; participate in a legal proceeding; attend support groups or therapy; and participate in safety planning, among other related activities held during work hours. An employee would be able to substitute paid leave for the leave provided under this bill. An employer would be entitled to seek certification that the employee is legitimately taking FMLA leave for the reasons outlined in the measure, but would be required to keep such information confidential. In lieu of such written documentation as police reports or witness statements, an employee would be able to satisfy the certification requirement by providing a written statement describing the reason for taking leave.

In a press release, Rep. Woolsey stated: “Domestic violence is a widespread problem affecting millions of people in the United States, men and women,” adding that her bill “ensures that those who have suffered abuse have the time to recover, physically and emotionally, without losing their job or forfeiting the income that supports them and their family.”

The text of this bill has already been incorporated into a more extensive leave bill – the Balancing Act of 2011 (H.R. 2346) – Rep. Woolsey introduced in June 2011. Yet another measure, the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) introduced in May 2011, would require employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.