By Tom M. Cramer, J.D.
Cramer Law wants to be sure that all employees know their rights in the State of Illinois. Under the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act, commonly referred to as VESSA which was passed in 2003, employees were given the right to request unpaid leave if they have been victims or in a family or household of a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Initially, the act was in effect for employers with 15 or more employees, and then in 2017, it was amended to include employers with 1 to 14 employees.
Now, those who have been the victim of gender violence will also be covered by VESSA beginning January 1, 2020.
For employers, this change is important because it will need to be added to employee handbooks or leave policies.
For employees, it is notable because it expands the law to move beyond a domestic situation. Gender violence may occur in society at large, which in fact, is a much broader context.
To understand the leave periods that are available to employees who have been victims of sexual, domestic or gender violence, please review the following:
- As of January 1, 2017, employers with 1-14 employees are required to provide employees experiencing domestic or sexual violence with up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
- Employers with 15-49 employees must provide up to 8 weeks of VESSA leave during any 12-month period.
- Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 12 weeks of VESSA leave during any 12-month period.
Employees who are entitled to unpaid leave under VESSA must still give their employer at least 48 hours’ notice.
An employer can still require certification of the leave, which may include police records, court records, or documentation from victim services, an attorney, or a clergy member, etc. Upon a return from VESSA leave, an employee must be returned to his or her previous position or an equivalent position.
Employees need to know their rights and protect them, and Cramer Law is there to be sure they will be protected.