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New law helps domestic violence victims

After an incidence of domestic violence or sexual assault, victims often need time to heal physically and mentally. In New Jersey, new legislation requires that employers give those who have suffered from domestic or sexual violence, or their close family members, 20 days of unpaid leave. This new law is called NJ SAFE Act, which stands for New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act. It will go into effect later this year.

Sponsors of this new law say that domestic and sexual assaults often follow the victim into the work place, reducing productivity and threatening their jobs. Those who experience this violence often lose over 100 work hours a year. The NJ Safe Act will allow them time to recover without risking their jobs. This law is similar to laws in 11 other states, which require employers to give domestic assault victims time off work.

Specific activities mentioned in the NJ SAFE Act include finding services from a victim's organization, getting counseling, finding new housing if necessary for safety, obtaining medication for psychological or physical damage, finding legal help, and preparing for and participating in court trials. Sometimes abusers interfere as well by taking the domestic violence victim's way of transportation to and from work. The stress of going to work while juggling all of these activities can be overwhelming.

The 20 days of unpaid leave will not have to be taken all at once; they can be day a day or two per incident if necessary. They can also be taken concurrently with paid leave. Employers will have to notify employees of their rights under this law as well. Those who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse may find it helpful to receive legal guidance from a family law attorney as they explore their legal options for receiving aid in this difficult situation.

Source: Politicker NJ, "Measure Would Allow Unpaid Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault ", Trish Graber, July 18, 2013

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