EPST -Safe Time Provision

An
economy works best when all people can thrive and reach their
fullest potential. This includes living without fear of violence and
abuse.  In Massachusetts, nearly 1 in 3
women
have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an
intimate partner.1
And these survivors often need to take time
off work to deal with legal, medical, and emotional consequences. Yet
workers in the Commonwealth are not guaranteed paid time off to deal
with these critical issues. Without the right work supports, these
experiences of victimization can jeopardize one’s work
stability and lead to lost days of paid employment. In fact, women lose
8 million days of paid work a year due to intimate partner
violence.2

image1

Earned paid sick time laws with safe time provisions have been passed
in a growing number of cities and states to provide paid time off for
employees to address health and safety issues. About a third of workers
do not have access to earned paid sick time in Massachusetts.3

What
is safe time and how can it support workers who experience
violence or abuse?

Economic security is essential
for survivors who are trying to leave an
abusive or violent situation. Yet keeping a job can be difficult for
survivors because they often need time off to seek critical services,
relocate to safe locations, or get legal help.

Safe time is a provision that
is often included in earned paid sick
time laws.  It is used to support survivors’
economic well-being by providing job protected, paid time off to deal
with critical issues of violence and abuse. California and Connecticut,
and cities like Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon have earned
paid sick time laws that include safe time.

Safe time provisions can also
benefit employers. By creating easier
pathways for survivors to get help and by establishing a work
environment that increases safety and support to employees, earned paid
sick time with safe time provisions can reduce turnover, increase
productivity, and lead to more satisfied workers.

What
state supports are available to survivors in Massachusetts?

Although domestic and sexual
violence usually occurs at home, it often
follows the victim to work. Typically, survivors experience an
inability to concentrate on the job because of the legal, medical and
psychological issues that result from abuse and violence. Because of
this, some important laws currently protect survivors in their place of
work. Specifically, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants
employees unpaid leave from work to address certain health-related
issues resulting from domestic violence.  However, the law is
limited because it does not grant leave to deal with the consequences
of violence beyond critical medical needs.  In order to
address this, Massachusetts recently passed a Domestic Violence Act. It
requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide workers who
are survivors of domestic or sexual violence up to 15 days of leave in
any 12 month period.4 This
law is also limited, however,
because leave is not paid. Risking financial stability can worsen an
abusive situation. In fact, economic independence is one of the best
predictors of whether a victim can separate from their abuser.5

In addition, a few important state programs support the economic
well-being, health, and safety of survivors of domestic and sexual
assault. MassBudget’s Children’s Budget highlights
some of these key programs. Such programs include Domestic
Violence and
Sexual Assault Prevention
, which funds a variety of programs that
aim
to prevent domestic and sexual violence as well as support survivors
and promote healthy relationship models, Support
Services for People at
Risk of Domestic Violence
, which funds domestic violence services
and
prevention programs, and Domestic
Violence Specialists
, which funds
services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence who are on public
assistance.

1Department
of Health and Human Services, Centers on Disease
Control and Prevention (2010) National Intimate Partner and Sexual
Violence Survey: 74; 76.
http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/

2Department
of Health and Human Services, Centers on Disease
Control and Prevention (2003) Costs of Intimate Partner Violence
Against Women in the United States: 19 
http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipvbook-a.pdf

3MassBudget
(2014) Earned Paid Sick Time –
Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Earned_Paid_Sick_Time.html

5Ibid.,
670.

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