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Employment NewsFlash
New Leave Entitlement for New Jersey Employees

August 27, 2013
Client Alert
New Jersey is now the most recent jurisdiction to require job-protected leave to crime victims. Eleven states, the District of Columbia and many cities, including Philadelphia, already have similar laws in place for victims of domestic violence or sexually violent offenses.

New Jersey’s law, known as the SAFE (Security And Financial Empowerment) Act requires employers to provide up to 20 days of unpaid leave where an employee or the employee’s child, parent, spouse, civil union spouse or domestic partner has been a victim of domestic violence or a sexually violent offense. To be eligible, the employee must have been employed for a total of 12 months and, in the 12-month period prior to leave, worked at least 1,000 hours.

Although many employers would consider providing a certain amount of time off regardless of legal requirement, the SAFE Act imposes additional obligations including:
  • Employees may use intermittent SAFE Act leave for activities beyond those traditionally associated with a medical leave of absence. For example, leave may be used for “safety planning,” court dates or relocating to a safe residence.
  • The SAFE Act grants employees the right to bring a claim for retaliation or discrimination in connection with requesting leave. Thus even after the expiration of SAFE Act leave, employers should be mindful of a history of such leave in connection with employment decisions.
  • An employer may require the use of paid vacation during any part of the 20 days. SAFE Act leave may also run concurrently with leave under other laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or the New Jersey Family Leave Act. However, because certain absences under the SAFE Act may not qualify as absences under other laws, employers should track – in a confidential manner – the reason for each absence and designate the leave time appropriately.
  • The SAFE Act applies to employers with 25 or more employees. Leave administration procedures should be developed for those employers large enough to be covered by the SAFE Act but not large enough to be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
  • The SAFE Act does not specify whether it applies to employers with 25 employees anywhere or only to businesses with 25 employees in New Jersey. Employers should consult with legal counsel should an issue arise with regard to the 25-employee threshold.
  • Notice of the SAFE Act must be provided to employees. A poster is expected to be published in the near future.

UPDATE: The notice to be posted is available here.

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