Florida State Laws on Taking Leave From Work Due to Domestic Violence

Florida law gives certain employees the right to take time off work to seek help for domestic violence.

If you or your family or household member has suffered sexual or domestic violence in Florida, you can take leave from your job for medical care, legal assistance, and more. If you are facing domestic violence, it can be very difficult to stay focused on your job. This law and others like it recognize that victims may need some time off work to manage safety concerns and get help.

Be careful when seeking assistance. As you research how to protect yourself and your family, remember that your abuser may have access to your phone records and Internet search history. If you use the same computer as your abuser or share a phone plan, for example, your abuser may find out what you are looking at and who you are talking to. Consider taking steps to protect your privacy (such as using a computer at the library or using a friend’s phone) when you are planning for your safety.

Who Can Take Leave in Florida

Florida’s domestic violence leave law applies only to larger employers: those with at least 50 employees. You are entitled to take leave under the law if you have been employed for at least three months, and you or a member of your family or household are a victim of sexual or domestic violence.

Telling Your Employer

Florida law requires employees who want to take domestic violence leave to follow their employer’s usual policies for giving notice that they need this time off (except if you are in imminent danger). Employees must also provide any documentation their employer requires.

Employees often worry that their employer might retaliate against them for requesting time off. However, the law prohibits employers from firing, demoting, suspending, or otherwise discriminating against employees because they need domestic violence leave.

You may also be concerned that your coworkers will learn painful personal details about your private life, or worse, that your abuser will learn you are taking time off to seek legal protection or relocate. The law requires your employer to keep all records and information about your leave, including any documents you are required to provide, confidential.

Taking Time Off for Domestic Violence

Employers in Florida must allow employees to take up to three workdays in a 12-month period, in order to:

  • get medical care or counseling
  • relocate or make your home more secure
  • seek an injunction
  • seek legal assistance, or
  • get services from a rape crisis center, shelter, or victims’ rights group.

This leave may be paid or unpaid, at your employer’s discretion. If you have accrued paid time off (such as vacation time, sick days, PTO, or annual leave), you must use it up before seeking leave under this provision. However, your employer can waive this requirement.

You may be entitled to leave under other policies or laws, however. If your employer offers sick leave, for example, you may be able to use it to seek medical attention for injuries relating to domestic violence. And, if you or a family member has suffered injuries or trauma that qualify as a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may qualify for leave under that law as well. Learn more about your rights under the FMLA.

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