Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”). The NJ SAFE Act became effective on October 1, 2013. This Act requires private employers, who employ 25 or more employees, to provide certain victims of domestic violence or sexually violent offenses up to 20 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. This Act also permits leave to be taken by an employee whose child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner is a victim of domestic violence or sexually violent offense. To be eligible, the employee must have worked at least 1,000 hours during the immediately preceding 12-month period.
Under the Act, a leave of absence is permitted to be taken for a wide range of activities, which includes seeking legal assistance or medical attention, obtaining services from victim services organizations or counseling, and participating in legal proceedings or safety planning activities, among other things. The regulations also require employers to post notice of employee’s rights under the NJ SAFE Act in a conspicuous location in the workplace.
Lastly, it is important to be aware of the anti-retaliatory provision contained in the NJ SAFE Act. The Act prohibits an employer from discharging, harassing or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against an employee who has taken leave or requested to take leave that he or she was entitled to under the Act.