Last week the full New Jersey General Assembly granted final legislative approval for bill A-2919/S-2177, known as the “New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act” or “NJ SAFE Act”. If signed into law by the Governor, the Act would allow eligible employees who are victims or whose family members are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to take up to 20 days of job protected leave per year to handle issues related to the abuse or assault. Specifically, the Act provides that leave may be taken to seek medical attention for injuries, obtain services from a victim services organization, obtain counseling, participate in safety planning, relocate or engage in other activities to ensure the safety of the employee or employee’s family member, seek legal assistance, and participate in legal proceedings.
Eligible employees under the Act would be required to take their leave within 1 year of the incident. Eligible employees are defined as those employees who have been employed for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,000 hours during the immediately preceding 12 month period. Prior to approving the leave of an eligible employee, an employer would be permitted to request documentation of the basis for the leave. Additionally, employers may request that eligible employees first exhaust any accrued paid leave provided by the employer, or leave afforded by the Family Leave Act and federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers with less than 25 employees are exempt from this proposed legislation.
Importantly, the Act provides for a civil cause of action against employers in alleged violation of its provisions. Should this legislation become law, the effective date will be the first day of the third month following enactment, and employers will be required to display a conspicuous notice of employee rights and obligations under the Act. Please check back periodically for updates about this legislation.
This article was originally printed on NJ Labor and Employment Law on May 28, 2013. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Sabrina Sandhu is an associate at Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla. She counsels employers with regard to workplace policies and manuals, and general litigation avoidance.