Dealing with the aftermath of a trauma can be overwhelming. When an act of physical violence ends, the to-do list for a victim is only beginning. New Jersey now offers another protection for victims. The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (NJ SAFE Act) went into effect on October 1, 2013. This law provides employment protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The NJ SAFE Act allows 20 days of unpaid leave for victims of violence to deal with the aftermath of the abusive act.
The 20 days of leave must be used within 12 months of the act of violence. Leave must be taken in no less than one-day intervals. The leave has to be related to the act of violence. Leave should be taken to:
An employee who has paid leave available to take may choose to take it. The employer may require the employee to take any available paid leave time. If the employee takes the paid leave, it counts towards the 20 available days under the NJ SAFE Act. If the employee is aware of the leave prior to needing it, the employee should give written notice to the employer as far in advance as is reasonably possible.
The employer may ask for documentation related to the abuse but is not required to do so. Documentation may be:
Any documentation provided must be kept confidential by the employer unless the employee authorizes its release in writing.
Employees may seek leave whether they are the direct victim or the victim is their child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner. An employee is someone who has been employed for at least 12 months (having worked at least 1,000 base hours) before asking to take the leave. An eligible employer is someone who employs at least 25 employees for at least 20 weeks of the year.
Any leave granted through the protection of the NJ SAFE Act will not conflict with rights provided by the Family Leave Act, Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, or the Temporary Disability Benefits Law. Notice of the NJ SAFE Act must be properly provided by employers. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees who take this leave. An employee who feels discriminated against may seek relief in the Superior Court.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a domestic or sexual violence victim, please visit Domestic Violence. You may also call LSNJLAWSM, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). You may also apply online.
This information last reviewed: Sep 1, 2023