The New Jersey legislature has passed a bill requiring employers to allow twenty days of unpaid leave to domestic violence victims in their workforce. The bill, known as the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (“SAFE”) Act, now heads to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
Passed unanimously by both houses of the New Jersey legislature, the bill applies to employers with twenty-five or more employees for at least twenty workweeks in the current or immediately preceding year. Under the bill, covered employers would be required to provide up to twenty days of unpaid leave to any employee who is a victim of a domestic violence incident or sexually violent offense, or to any employee who’s child, parent, spouse, or domestic or civil union partner was a victim of domestic or sexual violence. The leave would be available to the employee for up to one year following the incident. To be eligible, the individual must have worked for the employer for at least twelve months and for at least 1,000 hours during the previous twelve months.
The bill also requires employers to provide employees with a notice of rights under the bill, in a form that the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development will produce at a later date.
The bill does permit employers to require employees to provide documentation of the domestic violence incident, such as a restraining order or the certification of a social worker. The bill also permits employers to require employees to use any available paid time off during the leave or to require the leave to run concurrently with any available time under the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
Employers who fail to provide appropriate leave could be subject to civil actions seeking reinstatement, compensation for lost wages, and attorney’s fees. Employers could also face civil penalties of up to $2,000 for a first violation and up to $5,000 for additional violations.
The full text of the proposed legislation is available here.