Aneconomy works best when all people can thrive and reach theirfullest potential. This includes living without fear of violence andabuse. In Massachusetts, nearly 1 in 3womenhave experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by anintimate partner.1And these survivors often need to take timeoff work to deal with legal, medical, and emotional consequences. Yetworkers in the Commonwealth are not guaranteed paid time off to dealwith these critical issues. Without the right work supports, theseexperiences of victimization can jeopardize one’s workstability and lead to lost days of paid employment. In fact, women lose8 million days of paid work a year due to intimate partnerviolence.2
Earned paid sick time laws with safe time provisions have been passedin a growing number of cities and states to provide paid time off foremployees to address health and safety issues. About a third of workersdo not have access to earned paid sick time in Massachusetts.3
Whatis safe time and how can it support workers who experienceviolence or abuse?
Economic security is essentialfor survivors who are trying to leave anabusive or violent situation. Yet keeping a job can be difficult forsurvivors because they often need time off to seek critical services,relocate to safe locations, or get legal help.
Safe time is a provision thatis often included in earned paid sicktime laws. It is used to support survivors’economic well-being by providing job protected, paid time off to dealwith critical issues of violence and abuse. California and Connecticut,and cities like Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon have earnedpaid sick time laws that include safe time.
Safe time provisions can alsobenefit employers. By creating easierpathways for survivors to get help and by establishing a workenvironment that increases safety and support to employees, earned paidsick time with safe time provisions can reduce turnover, increaseproductivity, and lead to more satisfied workers.
Whatstate supports are available to survivors in Massachusetts?
Although domestic and sexualviolence usually occurs at home, it oftenfollows the victim to work. Typically, survivors experience aninability to concentrate on the job because of the legal, medical andpsychological issues that result from abuse and violence. Because ofthis, some important laws currently protect survivors in their place ofwork. Specifically, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grantsemployees unpaid leave from work to address certain health-relatedissues resulting from domestic violence. However, the law islimited because it does not grant leave to deal with the consequencesof violence beyond critical medical needs. In order toaddress this, Massachusetts recently passed a Domestic Violence Act. Itrequires employers with at least 50 employees to provide workers whoare survivors of domestic or sexual violence up to 15 days of leave inany 12 month period.4 Thislaw is also limited, however,because leave is not paid. Risking financial stability can worsen anabusive situation. In fact, economic independence is one of the bestpredictors of whether a victim can separate from their abuser.5
In addition, a few important state programs support the economicwell-being, health, and safety of survivors of domestic and sexualassault. MassBudget’s Children’s Budget highlightssome of these key programs. Such programs include DomesticViolence andSexual Assault Prevention, which funds a variety of programs thataimto prevent domestic and sexual violence as well as support survivorsand promote healthy relationship models, SupportServices for People atRisk of Domestic Violence, which funds domestic violence servicesandprevention programs, and DomesticViolence Specialists, which fundsservices to survivors of domestic and sexual violence who are on publicassistance.
2Departmentof Health and Human Services, Centers on DiseaseControl and Prevention (2003) Costs of Intimate Partner ViolenceAgainst Women in the United States: 19 http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipvbook-a.pdf
3MassBudget(2014) Earned Paid Sick Time –Frequently Asked Questionshttp://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Earned_Paid_Sick_Time.html