Employers in New Jersey with at least 25 employees must provide up to 20 days of unpaid leave to employees affected by domestic violence as of October 1, when the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act takes effect.
Under the law, employers must allow leave to any employee who is a victim of a domestic violence incident or a sexually violent offense or to any employee whose child, parent, spouse, or partner is the victim of such an incident.
Employers need to update their leave policies to take the SAFE Act into account as well as train managers on its requirements. In addition, employers will be required to post a notice of employee rights and obligations when it becomes available from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Employers also must take care not to discriminate or retaliate against employees who exercise their rights to leave. The law provides a private right of action for aggrieved employees to recover damages and attorneys’ fees as well as civil fines for violations.
To be eligible for SAFE Act leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,000 hours during the preceding 12 months. The leave is available for up to one year after an incident, and an employee must provide advance written notice when the need for leave is foreseeable.
More information on the SAFE Act will be available in the October issue of New Jersey Employment Law Letter.