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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Family and Relationships > Domestic Violence > Other Laws Related to Domestic Violence

Employee as Victim—The NJ SAFE Act

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. In this vein, 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:

  • Seek medical attention for physical or psychological injuries
  • Obtain services from a victim services organization
  • Obtain psychological or other counseling
  • Participate in safety planning
  • Seek legal assistance or other necessary remedies to ensure health and safety
  • Attend criminal or civil court proceedings

An employee who has paid leave available to take can 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 provide written notice to the employer as far in advance as is reasonably possible.

The employer may ask for documentation related to the abuse, but they are not required to do so. Documentation may be:

  • A temporary or final restraining order
  • Paperwork from the municipal or county prosecutor
  • Proof of conviction of the offender
  • Medical records of the offense
  • A certification from a certified Domestic Violence Specialist or director of a domestic violence agency/rape crisis center
  • From a social worker, clergy member, or other professional who has assisted the victim

Any documentation provided must be kept confidential by the employer. The employee may choose to authorize its release in writing.

Employees may seek leave whether or not 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) prior to requesting 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 these protections 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 this law must be properly provided by employers. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees who take this leave. If an employee feels discriminated against, the employee 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. ​