Washington Grants Domestic Violence Leave

John GarnerDMEC News

Effective April 1, 2008, Washington requires employers to provide time off to employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Washington’s law permits employees to take leave from work for a variety of activities connected with domestic violence, including:

  • To seek law enforcement or legal assistance or to prepare for or participate in any legal proceeding related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
  • To seek health care treatment for physical or mental injuries from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or attend to such health care treatment for a family member;
  • To obtain (or assist a family member in obtaining) services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center or other social services;
  • To obtain (or assist a family member in obtaining) mental health counseling related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; or
  • To participate in safety planning, to temporarily or permanently relocate or to take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or family member relating to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The law applies to all employers, public and private, regardless of size, except temporary staffing agencies. The amount of leave is restricted to a “reasonable” amount, but is not specifically limited to a number of days. The leave may be taken in blocks or intermittently. An employee may choose to use sick leave and other paid time off, compensatory time or unpaid leave time. The leave under this law is in addition to other rights to take leave available to employees under other regulations.

An employee must give advance notice, when possible and must give notice no later than the end of the first day the employee takes leave. An employer may require verification from an employee who is requesting leave. If so, an employee may provide one or more of the following:

  • A police report indicating the employee or employee’s family member was a victim;
  • A court order providing protection to the victim;
  • Documentation from a healthcare provider, advocate, clergy or attorney;
  • An employee’s written statement that the employee or employee’s family member is a victim and needs assistance. Family relationship may be determined by birth certificate, court document or other similar record or a statement from the employee.
  • Family member includes child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or person the employee is dating.
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