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Domestic Violence Victims – The Right to Take Time off from Work

Victims of domestic violence have plenty of things to worry about after a domestic incident occurs. The turbulence caused by physical and mental abuse at the hands of a spouse or family member can be devastating and victims often need to seek medical attention and time to regroup.

What some survivors of domestic abuse do not often realize is that the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as certain state laws dictate that victims can take legitimate leave from work in certain circumstances. Victims tend to lose serious work time due to the need for seeking legal help, finding a safe house, or seeking the help of a doctor. It is estimated that domestic violence results in 137 lost work hours in a year for a victim of abuse. In some cases, work time is lost because of an abusers exertion of control over their victim which results in the disability of work transportation, withholding of money needed to get to work, or the inability to make child care arrangements.

States have begun to pass many new domestic violence leave laws that allow for victims to take off from work to take care of business including permission to take a leave for victims to attend court. Currently, nearly a dozen states have passed laws allowing work leave as a result of domestic violence. These states include California, Florida, Illinois, District of Columbia, and Washington.

The laws among states all differ from each other. Some of the details include:

  • Amount of Time – Employees may be allowed a certain amount of days or weeks off in some states. Others permit ‘reasonable’ periods of time. Still other states prevent employers from firing or reprimanding employees who must take time off due to domestic circumstances.
  • Leave Reasons – Each state has different allowances for activities allowable for time off including medical treatment, counseling, moving, legal actions, or court appearances.
  • Employer Notice and Paperwork – States typically require employees to give advanced notice for leave intentions. Most states do accept that emergency situations do not allow for much time to give notice. Employees are also generally required to provide written proof that leave was taken due to reasons of domestic violence.
  • Paid Leave Usage – States do not require that employees be paid for time off due to domestic violence as of now, except for the District of Columbia. Employees may be allowed to take their vacation or sick time during leave and others may require all paid leave must be taken before domestic violence leave is taken.

Understanding FMLA Leave

FMLA leave is not paid unless accrued vacation or sick time is used. FMLA is applicable only to employers who have at least 50 active employees working within a 75 mile radius of each other. Employees must also have worked for at least a year to be eligible.

If you have questions about the FMLA or questions related to Domestic Violence Leave from work, you might need to consult an attorney who can help you with the facts. Our legal experts are available for a free consultation. Don’t wait to get the facts on your rights by contacting us today toll free at toll free: 866-205-2415.