(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Victims of domestic and sexual violence in Missouri are now allowed protected time off work.
As of October 27th, a new state law called 'The Victims Economic Safety and Security Act' or VESSA grants employees facing violence at home, time away from work to seek medical care, housing or relocating, counseling and other victim resources- all while protecting their job.
The law also extends to family or household members of a victims of domestic or sexual abuse.
“What a wonderful message to send to an employee: ‘Hey, we care about you, we’re worried about you and we want to support you,’” said Tammy Killin, CEO of St. Joseph's YWCA.
St. Joseph's YWCA said this is a major first step in supporting victims in the workplace.
VESSA requires employers with 20 or more workers to provide one week of unpaid leave annually. Businesses with 50 or more employees must provide two weeks.
According to Missouri's Division of Labor Standards, employers may request certification that an employee is a victim.
While Tammy Killin, CEO of St. Joseph's YWCA said up to two weeks off sounds like a lot, it's not nearly enough time. However, she said it is a start.
“Think about getting medical, getting school figured out, finding a new place to live,” said Killin.
As businesses navigate the policy change, the YWCA encourages employers to use the law as a tool to support workers during a challenging time at home.
“This isn’t something that is a loophole for employees to manipulate or take advantage of. You always have those situations in a work environment, but I think it’s actually an opportunity to not have those misconceptions about an employee and get down to the meat and potatoes about what’s going on,” said Killin.
Killin said the YWCA is more than willing to help and educate local employers on the new law. The agency has already given a presentation to St. Joseph's Chamber of Commerce and has an upcoming presentation in January.
For more information on VESSA, call the YWCA at (816) 232-4481.
To read more about VESSA, click here.