One in four women and one in seven men will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their life. On top of the abuse, 60% of these victims will lose their job as a direct result of this violence. This is because on average an individual experiencing domestic violence will miss about 137 hours of work. Not only are these individuals now stuck in their abusive relationship, they now have no way of working towards a financial freedom that would allow them to leave. Keeping your job while trying to transition into a safer environment is one of the basic support systems we as a society can provide to a victim. The financial stability a job affords and individual is a great way to ensure that a victim can have a solid foundation when working towards healing the wounds given to them from an abusive relationship.
Some would think that we already solved this issue with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, 50% of working mothers are not eligible for the leave provided under FMLA. Additionally, there are other requirements in FMLA that can make it difficult for the victims to utilize the leave and get the support they need. We are hoping that our two-tiered system of leave and support will be a solution that can fill the gaps that FMLA misses when applied to all individuals.
Our first objective is to ensure that we are helping the victims and not hurting any local small businesses. Looking at employers with nine or less employees we are seeking to have a mandatory two weeks of unpaid leave. This time can be spread throughout the year used to accomplish tasks like finding new housing, setting up new accounts, seeking medical help, or finding legal assistance. The main idea is to allow the victim to remove themselves from their current situation and find the support they need. Even though they might not be getting paid during this period, we want to ensure the victims have peace of mind knowing their job will still be there after they work through the cloud of domestic violence.
Our second-tier initiative is seeking to help those in larger corporations. We are requesting that two weeks of paid leave be granted to the victim. Here, the paid leave would only apply to employers that have ten or more employees. Allowing victims to have financial freedom in an otherwise abusive relationship will give them a better foundation to leave their situation and begin to heal. Some victims see this leap out of the relationship as a true transition in life and knowing that they have the support from their workplace and a paycheck to help them along the way will be a huge benefit in helping these victims seek the help they need and should be given.
The focus of the bill is to ensure they safety of the victim and afford them the ability to leave a situation where abuse is taking place. In order to be eligible for this leave there are a couple of steps that must be taken by the victim. They must have some documentation provided to their employer that shows their need for using the leave. This documentation must be a sword, signed, and dated attestation along with a letter from a medical or psychiatric provider, a direct services organization, or a police/court record. However, don’t be mistaken, a police report is not a requirement for use of the leave, it just must be some documentation from a professional that attests to the fact you are going through a domestic violence situation. Once this documentation is created the victim will be able to take time-off as needed to heal and continue to grow after these traumatic events.
Overall, there is a growing epidemic that is hurting our society one person at a time. This bill has the opportunity to help us heal as a society and support those in need the most. We are seeking to continue the effort started by the FMLA and we believe that our solution will help victims leave their current situation and have a better foundation to work and grow through the healing process.