Survivors of Domestic Abuse Allowed Unpaid Leave Under Proposed Bill

Feb 22, 2018

Credit Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

Proposed legislation would allow some Missouri employees to take unpaid leave to take care of matters relating to domestic violence.

The Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee held a public forum on the bill Wednesday morning.

The bill would legally require workplaces with a minimum of fifteen employees to allow workers to take one week of leave concerning matters of domestic violence. These days could be used to seek medical attention, obtain counseling, seek legal help or other matters related to a situation of domestic violence.  Employers with at least 50 employees would be required to allow two weeks.

Employees who do take leave must notify their employer 48 hours in advance and, in some cases, provide documentation of their leave if requested by their workplace.

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis County, the bill’s sponsor, said employees should not have to worry about economic instability when dealing with domestic abuse.

“Victims of domestic violence need to be given the opportunity to recover and get away from their abuser without being victimized again by the loss of a job,” Schupp said.

Jennifer Carter Dochler spoke in favor of the bill on behalf the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She talked about the worries some working women face with this issue.

“They often times feel like they’re struggling between their employment and being able to get court or medical attention,” Dochler said.

Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, said it is common sense for employers to implement such a policy, but expressed concern that legally requiring such leave could lead to an increase in lawsuits.

“This is a good idea in that I think every employer should do it, but by codifying it in law I think we’re creating another legal problem in the process,” Romine said.

According to the legislation, the days of leave are not required to be consecutive, and only a fixed number of days can be used per year.