October 24, 2013
Boston – Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) voted in support of An Act Enhancing Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence today, which provides up to fifteen days of employment leave to victims of domestic violence to address certain matters related to the abuse. The legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate, and will now go before the House of Representatives.
“I am proud that the Senate was able to take this important step in protecting the rights and safety of Massachusetts citizens,” said Senator Ross. “The support provided by this legislation will allow victims to seek the assistance they need without being concerned that they will lose their job because of it.”
Pursuant to the legislation, employees are entitled to up to 15 days of leave from work if the employee or a member of the employee’s family has been the victim of abusive behavior. The leave may be used to seek medical attention, victim services or legal assistance, to secure housing, to obtain a protective order from the court, to attend a child custody hearing, or to pursue other legal action related to the abusive behavior. The employee may be required to exhaust all vacation and sick leave before requesting relief under this legislation.
The employee must provide advanced notice to the employer, unless under threat of imminent harm, in which case notification must be provided to the employer within five days of the absence. An employer may request documentation confirming the employee’s reason for leaving. Several types of documentation are authorized, including medical documentation of treatment, a protective order, and a police incident report, among others.
The bill also increases penalties for repeat violations of orders of protection, and mandates that individuals convicted of domestic violence complete a certified batterer’s intervention program. The crime of strangulation is established and may be punished by up to 5 years of imprisonment in state prison, 2 ½ years in a house of correction, or a fine of up to $5,000.
Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.