Heymann & Fletcher

Survivors of domestic violence need time off work

Survivors of domestic violence often feel as though they have no way out of their situation. Sometimes, even when they know they should leave their abuser, it is financially difficult for them to do so. Perhaps their abuser controls the finances, or survivors don't have their own means to generate income, or survivors feel that they can't take needed time off from work. Fortunately, the state of New Jersey has a paid leave policy to help survivors of domestic violence. That policy and others like it around the nation are inspiring other municipalities to follow suit.

One out-of-state city council seeks to change its laws, hoping that mandating a "safe leave" policy will help victims leave their abusive relationships while still being able to provide for themselves and their families. The city's local Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center says that eight million workdays are lost due to issues around domestic violence in the United States every year. Also, a significant majority of survivors are unable to maintain employment because of their situation. The local DVCA points out that people in abusive relationships often need time off of work, for medical treatment, to move out of their home or to care for their children. However, for now, the federal government does not have any laws that protect the jobs of these survivors.

Advocates want local governing bodies to step in and help these people. Many cities and states have answered that charge, but others still have yet to adopt similar legislation. Supporters want a policy that not only guarantees employees will retain their jobs if they have to take time off due to a domestic violence situation, but they also want to ensure that it will be paid time off, thus alleviating the problem of potentially missed income, which could make a survivor's situation even worse.

Those who want to get out of an abusive relationship shouldn't ever feel as though their job is standing in the way. Existing laws in New Jersey can help survivors along their path. An attorney with experience in handling restraining orders or other legal matters related to domestic violence can help those who are unsure of where to start.

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