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Domestic Violence Leave: Taking Time Off from Work to Deal with Abuse

July 2019

Are you worried about losing your job because of family violence? This article explains Connecticut’s Family Violence Leave law and can help you write a letter to your employer asking for time off to deal with family violence or abuse. A PDF of the sample letter is also available.

What is the Domestic Violence Leave law and what can it be used for?

If there is violence in your family or relationship and your employer has three (3) or more employees, you can take up to 12 days off if needed to deal with problems related to the violence. For example, you can

(If you want to read the law, you can find it here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_557.htm#sec_31-51ss.)

What does it mean to be a victim of family violence?

An incident can be considered family violence even if you are not married or related by blood. The law covers violence between

  • people who are married to each other;
  • people who used to be married and are now divorced;
  • people who are dating;
  • people who recently broke up;
  • people who have a child together, even if they have never lived together;
  • parents and children;
  • two people over age 18 who are related by blood or marriage; and
  • people who live together or who used to live together.

Violence means:

  • You have been physically hurt or attacked.
  • You have been threatened and you have good reason to be afraid that the person who threatened you will hurt you.
  • You are being stalked or there is a pattern of threatening.

Arguing, name-calling, and mental abuse are not considered family violence unless you are also in danger of being physically hurt.

How much time can I take off?

You can take off up to twelve days in one year, although an employer can choose to give you more time.

The family violence leave is not supposed to take away any rights the worker has as part of their union or employment contract. It is also not supposed to affect any other leave time that the employee should get under state or federal law.

Will I get paid for the days I take off?

You will only get paid if you already have paid time off available to you (for example, personal days, sick days, or vacation time).

How much do I have share about my situation to get time off from work?

If you are uncomfortable telling your employer about your situation, you may want to try to use personal days, sick days, or vacation time without asking for time off under the Family Violence Leave law.

If you need time off to see a doctor or a mental health professional, you may be able to use sick time under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Ask your employer about its medical leave policies.

If you decide to ask for time off under the Family Violence Leave law, you will have to tell your boss about your situation. But the law says the employer must keep paperwork confidential when it is related to Domestic Violence leave.

If you take family violence leave, your employer can ask you to provide paperwork to show why you need the time off, such as:

  • a police report,
  • a court document, or
  • a written statement from
    • the medical or counselor’s office,
    • a domestic violence organization, or
    • an attorney or a court employee.

If you give any of these papers to your boss, they will probably have to show the paperwork to another manager or to someone in the human resources department in order to give you the time off. But your employer is supposed to keep these documents confidential. They can’t show the paperwork to anyone else unless the law requires it or if it is necessary to keep an employee safe – and your employer would have to tell you first.

The most important thing is your safety. Would telling your employer make things worse for you or put you in more danger? If you need help, contact Statewide Legal Services at 860-344-0380 (Central CT) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other areas of CT) or a Domestic Violence advocate.

How much notice do I have to give when I ask for time off?

Usually, you should ask for the time off as soon as you know you need it. If you need the time off for something that was foreseeable – like a weekly counseling appointment that you knew about ahead of time – your boss can require you to give up to 7 days’ notice. If you need the time for something that comes up suddenly (like having to move quickly or having to get an emergency restraining order), you should ask your boss for the time off as soon as you can.

How should I ask for the time off?

Here is a sample letter you can use to ask your employer for time off.

This tool can write the letter for you. It will ask you some questions and write letter that you can print out and give to your employer.

Questions? Call Statewide Legal Services at 860-344-0380 (Central CT) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other areas of CT).

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