The Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act provides that an employee who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence or has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence may take up to a total of 12 work weeks of leave from work during any 12-month period to address the domestic or sexual violence.
I understand that the employee may use this leave to:
- Seek medical attention for, or recovery from, physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence to the employee or employee’s family or household member;
- Obtain victim services for the employee or employee’s family or household member;
- Obtain psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
- Participate in safety planning, including temporary or permanent relocation or other actions to increase the safety of the victim from future domestic or sexual violence; or
- Seek legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the victim, including participating in court proceedings related to the violence.
The employee shall provide the employer with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of the employee’s intention to take the leave, unless providing such notice is not practicable. Employers may require employees to provide certification to the employer. This can include documentation from a victim services organization, attorney, member of the clergy, or medical or other professional from whom the employee or the employee’s family or household member has sought assistance; a police or court record; or other corroborating evidence.
Employers must maintain the confidentiality of all information pertaining to the use of VESSA leave, notice of an employee’s intention to take VESSA leave, and certification provided by the employee.
I read that the Act prohibits an employer (defined as the State or any agency of the State; any unit of local government or school district; or any person that employs at least 50 employees) from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, or who seeks to take leave to address their problems.
Employers are not required to provide paid leave under this Act, but employees may elect to substitute available paid leave, if they have it. Employers may not reduce group health plan benefits during the leave period.
The Illinois Department of Labor has the power to conduct investigations in connection with the administration and enforcement of this Act. Any employee who believes his or her rights under this Act have been violated may, within three (3) years after the alleged violation occurs, file a complaint with the Department.An employer who is found to have violated the Act may be required to pay damages to the victim.