Domestic Violence Victims Gain New Rights at Work

On Monday, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio signed a bill expanding the city’s paid sick leave laws to include “safe time” for domestic violence. It joins cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis, and states like California and Washington, that guarantee paid time off for victims to meet with law enforcement, move away from an abuser, and arrange for other potentially life-saving services. The New York bill is one of the most progressive laws to date, extending protections to victims of sexual assault, and stalking.

Employers, for their part, still have some catching up to do. A 2017 survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that about 42% of U.S. employers don’t offer paid domestic violence leave, and another 19% said they’re “not sure” if they would cover it. That means more than half of U.S. employers don’t guarantee paid safe time, or haven’t formalized it into company policy.

As more of these policies roll out, advocates say, the roughly 1.3 million American women who experience domestic violence annually will have an easier time getting back on their feet.  Paid leave gives them the time and space to turn their lives around without worrying if their jobs are at stake.

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