Effective October 1, 2013
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act, commonly known as the “NJ SAFE Act,” which allows an eligible employee to take 20 days of unpaid leave during a 12-month period in the event the employee or the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. Although the law requires the leave to be unpaid, The College of New Jersey will provide the opportunity for employees to use accrued, but unused leave time towards a portion of the leave or the entire leave. This new law applies to New Jersey employers with 25 or more employees and has an effective date of October 1, 2013.
To be eligible for leave under the NJ SAFE Act, an employee must work for The College of New Jersey for at least 12 months and have worked 1,000 hours or more during the preceding 12-month period. Unpaid leave under the NJ SAFE Act must be taken within one year of the incident of domestic violence or sexual assault and may be taken intermittently with employer approval in intervals of no less than one day. The purpose of the law to is allow employees who are assault victims or are caring for family members who are victims to have time to engage in the following activities associated with the incident without fear of losing their jobs: (1) seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries; (2) obtaining services from victim assistance programs; (3) receiving psychological or other counseling; (4) relocating or taking other steps to increase the safety of themselves or the victim; (5) seeking legal assistance; and (6) participating in civil or criminal court proceedings related to the incident of domestic or sexual violence.
If the need for leave under the NJ SAFE Act is foreseeable, employees are required to give written notice to the Human Resources Department by completing the attached form as far in advance as is reasonable and practical under the circumstances. We will request documentation supporting the need for leave. Employees can satisfy this requirement by providing a copy of any applicable restraining order; a letter from the prosecutor; documentation of the conviction of the assailant; medical documentation of the victim; a certification from a certified Domestic Violence Specialist or Rape Crisis Center employee; or a certification or other documentation from a social worker, clergy member, shelter worker or other professional who assisted the victim.
Like most employment laws in New Jersey, the NJ SAFE Act prohibits retaliation against employees for the exercise of rights granted by the Act.