On October 1, 2013, the “Safe Act” becomes effective. The Safe Act provides 20 days of unpaid leave to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The employer can require that this unpaid leave be covered under FMLA, New Jersey FMLA, vacation, or personal leave.
The purpose of the Safe Act is to provide New Jersey victims with time to deal with matters related to an incident of domestic abuse or sexual assault. The Safe Act covers:
- The employee,
- The employee’s child,
- The employee’s parent,
- The employee’s spouse,
- The employee’s domestic partner, or
- The employee’s civil union partner.
Within 12 months of the incident, the Safe Act’s purpose is to provide the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault can:
- Seek medical attention for, or recover from, physical or psychological injuries;
- Obtain servies from victim services organization;
- Obtain psychological or other counseling;
- Participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanent relocate, or undertake other actions to increase safety;
- Seek legal assistance or remedies; or
- Attend, participate in, or prepare for court proceedings.
If the employer violates the Safe Act, the employee can ask for the following remedies: (1) Reinstatement; (2) compensation for lost wages and benefits; (3) an injunction; (4) attorney’s fees and costs; (5) civil find of $1,000 to $2,000 for a first time violation; and (6) a fine of $5,000 for any subsequent violations.