If you work in New Jersey and are a victim of domestic or sexual violence, you may have the right to take some time off work to seek medical care, get legal help, and meet other needs relating to the abuse. New Jersey law recognizes that employees may find it difficult to work when they are worried about their own safety and the safety of their children. New Jersey also prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your status as a victim of domestic violence or your need to take time off. We explain these rights below.
Be careful in your safety planning. Do you share a phone plan or a computer with your abuser? If so, keep in mind that your calls and search history may not be private. As you plan to keep yourself and your children safe, consider using a work phone or computer (if allowed) or a friend’s communications equipment for confidential research and calls.
New Jersey’s domestic and sexual violence leave law only covers employers that have at least 25 employees. To be eligible for leave under the law, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,000 hours in the 12 months immediately prior to taking leave. (If you are laid off or furloughed by your employer because of a state of emergency, such as a natural disaster, up to 90 days of that time counts as hours worked for purposes of determining whether you qualify for domestic/sexual violence leave.)
New Jersey law requires employees who want to take domestic or sexual violence leave to give written notice as far in advance as possible and practical, if the need for leave is foreseeable. Whether or not you are able to give notice, your employer may ask you to provide documentation that you or your family or household member is facing domestic violence or has suffered sexual violence, and that you took time off for one of the reasons allowed by the law.
If your employer requires documentation, it must accept any of the following:
Employees often worry that their employer might retaliate against them for requesting time off. However, the law prohibits employers from firing, demoting, harassing, threatening, or otherwise taking action against employees because they need domestic or sexual 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 your certification documents, in the strictest confidence. They may disclose these documents only if required by state or federal law or if you request or consent to it, in writing.
You may take leave from work for these reasons relating to domestic or sexual violence against you or a family member (your child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner):
If you have accrued paid time off (such as vacation time, sick days, PTO, or annual leave), you may use it during your domestic/sexual violence leave, if you wish.
You may take up to 20 days in a 12-month period for the reasons listed above. This time may count against your time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or New Jersey’s Family Leave Act law, if you or your family member has a serious health condition. (Learn more in New Jersey Family and Medical Leave Laws.)
If you suffer injuries that amount to a temporary disability, or your family member’s injuries amount to a serious health condition, you may be eligible for partial wage replacement during your time off. New Jersey has a temporary disability insurance program that provides some compensation while you are unable to work; the state also has a family leave insurance program that provides similar benefits for up to six weeks, if you are off work to care for a family member in certain circumstances. Learn more about these programs at the state’s page on temporary disability and family leave insurance.