Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Security Act Updates

Illinois Victims Economic Safety and Security Act adds amendment to include small businessess
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Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act Amendment Update

Only a couple of months after Chicago passed their Sick Leave Ordinance, around the same time that the Cook County Sick Leave Ordinance also passed, the State of Illinois also passed three laws aimed at protecting leave for employees. Those new laws are the Employee Sick Leave Act, The Child Bereavement Act, and an updated addendum to the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act. The purpose of this article is to give an overview of what employers with employees in the State of Illinois need to be aware of in regards to the Illinois Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act.

Victims Economic Security & Safety Act Overview

The Illinois victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) gives victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence to take unpaid leave to address the issues related to the domestic or sexual violence. Additionally employees whose family members are victims of domestic abuse or violence are entitled to unpaid leave. VESSA allows for various amounts of leave, depending on the size of the company. The new amendment to the leave provides leave for employees whose employer has less than 15 employees. Previously, these employees were not entitled to any unpaid leave under VESSA.

Employer Size Amount of Leave Awarded to Employees under VESSA
0-14 Employees 4 Weeks *Starts Jan 1, 2017
15-49 Employees 8 Weeks
50 or more Employees 12 Weeks

Allowable Uses under VESSA

VESSA provides leave to be taken for the following reasons:

  1. To seek medical attention or recovery from physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence to the employee or the employee’s family or household member.
  2. To Obtain victim services for the employee or employee’s family or household member
  3. Participate in safety planning, including temporary housing, or permanent relocation or other actions to increase the safety of the victim from future domestic or sexual violence
  4. Seek Legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the victim, including participating in court proceedings related to the violence.

VESSA allows the employee to take the leave in lump sums or on a reduced work schedule.  

Notice and Documentation

The Victims Economic Security and Safety Act requires that when it is practicable, that the employee give a 48 hour notice to the employer. It also prohibits action by the employer against the employee if an unscheduled absence occurs due to VESSA.

Further, employers are required to ask for documentation to ensure that employees took the unpaid leave in accordance with VESSA. Documentation can include:

  1. Documentation from a victims services organization, attorney, clergy, medical or other involved professional from who assistance was sought.
  2. Police or court record
  3. Other corroborating evidence

Retaliation and Remedies

The Illinois Department of Labor oversees compliance with the Act. Retaliation against any employee exerting or attempting to exert their rights is strictly prohibited. Employers cannot discharge, harass, or discriminate against employees. This includes the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

If an employer violates VESSA, the DOL may require the employer to pay damages to the employee including wages, salary, employment benefits, public assistance, or other compensation lost or denied, with interest. The employer may also be required to provide equitable relief including reinstatement, promotion, reasonable accommodations, and pay for attorneys fees, expert witness fees, and other costs of the action. Additionally there is a 1% daily penalty to employers who fail to pay the remedies after 30 days of the order by the DOL. 

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses who have employees in Illinois may have to comply with multiple city, county and state laws defining Sick leave accrual and usage laws. Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Leave Medical Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws and track paid and unpaid leave. Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws.

Written by Annemaria Duran Last updated on December 7, 2016

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