Suffering the indignities of domestic violence or sexual assault or supporting family members through such difficulties can irreparably change your life, but it should not cost you your job. New Jersey’s Security and Financial Empowerment Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1, (SAFE Act) ensures that New Jersey employees have the ability to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault without fear of losing their jobs by providing certain New Jersey employees with up to 20 days of leave during a 12 month period to address certain circumstances related to either domestic violence or sexual assault.What Employees Are Covered By The NJ SAFE Act?
The NJ SAFE Act applies to people who work for employers that employed at least 25 employees during 20 or more calendar weeks. Additionally, to be eligible to the protections of the SAFE Act, an individual must have worked at least 1,000 hours during the preceding 12 months.What Is A SAFE Act eligible circumstance?
NJ SAFE Act leave is available to an eligible employee who is a victim of either domestic violence or a violent sexual offense. SAFE Act Leave is also available to an eligible employee whose parent, spouse, child, domestic partner, or civil union partner is the victim of either a sexually violent offense or domestic violence.
Eligible employees can take SAFE Act leave for any of the following reasons related to domestic violence or a sexually violent assault:
- seeking or obtaining medical care for, or recuperating from, physical and/or psychological harm, or
- caring for or supporting a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner seeking or obtaining medical care for, or recuperating from, physical and/or psychological harm,
- obtaining services from a victim services organization,
- obtaining psychological care or other counseling services,
- taking part in safety planning, relocating either permanently or temporarily, or taking other measures to increase safety from future domestic violence or sexual violence or to protect the employee’s or his or her child’s, parent’s, spouse’s, domestic partner’s or civil union partner’s economic security,
- obtaining legal remedies or assistance, and/or
- preparing for, attending or participating in a civil or criminal proceeding to protect the health and safety of the employee or his or her child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner.
While the leave is technically unpaid leave under the SAFE Act, you can apply for pay through New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance program, which pays eligible employees 2/3 of their pay to a maximum of $881 per week in 2020.Do I Have Any Other Rights Under The SAFE Act?
Yes, eligible employees have the right to request and take leave without interference by their employers. The SAFE Act also prohibits discrimination and retaliation against employees because they request or take leave under the Act or refuse to disclose or release to the employer information considered confidential under the Act.What Should I Do If My Employer Is Giving Me A Hard Time Because I Took SAFE Act Leave?
You should not have to fight with your employer because you need time off to deal with the trauma caused by either domestic violence or a sexually violent assault. If your employer is denying you your right to leave or giving you a hard time about requesting or taking leave, you should call New Jersey’s SAFE Act attorneys at Lenzo & Reis. Our SAFE Act lawyers understand the importance of having the time necessary to heal from and deal with the physical and psychological harms of domestic violence and violent assaults as well as to address legal issues related to such matters without also worrying about job loss. Call us. We can help.