Missouri: New Leave for Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence
Effective August 28, 2021, Missouri’s new Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA) shall provide leave and reasonable safety accommodations to employees who experience domestic or sexual violence. This leave is applicable to employers with at least 20 employees. Currently, Missouri does not have leave laws for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Employees shall be entitled to unpaid leave. The duration of leave shall depend on the size of the employer. Employers with less than 20 employees shall not be eligible for the leave. Employers with more than 20 employees and less than 49 employees shall be eligible for 1 week of unpaid leave per year. If there are more than 50 employees in the workplace, employees shall be entitled to 2 weeks of unpaid leave per year.
VESSA leave, however, is not provided where such leave would result in an employee taking more leave than the amount of unpaid leave allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Much like FMLA leave, VESSA leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced work schedule.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave
VESSA leave is available for any of the following reasons:
- Seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence
- Against the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
- Obtaining victim services for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
- Obtaining psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
- Participating in safety planning, including temporary or permanent relocation, or other actions to increase the employee or the employee’s family or household member’s safety from future domestic or sexual violence; and
- Seeking legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s family or household member, including participating in court proceedings related to the violence.
Employees working for an employer covered by VESSA are eligible to take leave if they are victims of domestic or sexual violence, or they have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.
Employees who wish to take the VESSA leave are required to submit an advance notice at least 48 hours prior to the leave.
As a next step, employees should update the handbooks and policy manual, to include the VESSA leave and the requirement of documentation for the same. Covered employers are required to notify employees of their rights under VESSA no later than Oct. 27, 2021. Thereafter, newly hired employees must receive notice of VESSA rights when their employment begins.