Although the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA) has been in effect for a number of years, like many other employee protection laws, it only applied to employers with 15 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2017, the Act will provide benefits to all employers, regardless of the size of the workplace.
VESSA provides unpaid leave, similar in nature to FMLA, to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence or whose family members or household members are victims of domestic or sexual violence. Currently the law allows employees to take up to 8 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period if they work for an employer with 15 to 49 employees, and 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period if they work for an employer with 50 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2017, employees who work for an employer with no more than 14 employees will be entitled to 4 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period to address issues related to domestic or sexual violence.
No change was made to the Act’s limitation that VESSA leave cannot exceed the total amount of leave in combination with FMLA or that employees must provide a certification from an appropriate treatment provider to verify the need for the leave.
Smaller employers newly covered by this Act should be aware of the necessity to not only adopt a policy on VESSA rights, but to post a notice about these rights, along with other employment law postings in the workplace.