California Employers Must Provide Notice to Employees of Rights to Domestic Violence Leave

On September 14th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill, AB 237employmentlawupdate7, which requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide notice to their employees of their right to a protected leave of absence for domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

By no later than July 1, 2017 the California Labor Commissioner is expected to develop and publish a form to be used to provide this notice to employees at the time of hire and at any time during employment upon employee request.

Prior to the new form’s release, employers should include a policy in their employee handbook discussing the protected leave.  The policy should include a statement that employees are entitled to use any available vacation and/or sick time for this leave of absence.  The policy should also specify that the leave can be taken for any of the following issues that may arise due to being a victim of domestic assault, stalking or sexual assault: (1) to seek medical attention for injuries; (2) to obtain psychological counseling; (3) to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center; (4) to participate in safety planning, such as temporary or permanent relocation.  Finally, the policy should include a statement that prohibits retaliation for taking time off under this protected leave.

It is important for covered employers to provide training to all levels of management regarding the new notice requirement as well as the rights of employees who are victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.