Missouri Law Requires Employers Provide Leave to Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence
Update Applicable to:
All employers in Missouri with at least 20 employees.
On August 28, 2021, Governor Parson signed the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA).
What are the details?
The law, effective immediately, requires employers with at least 20 employees to provide employees with unpaid leave and safety accommodations if an employee, a family member, or household member of an employee, is a victim of domestic violence or sexual violence.
A summary of key provisions provided in VESSA are:
- Leave to any employee who seeks medical attention, victim services, psychological or other counseling, safety planning, or legal assistance for themselves, a family, or household member, if they are victims of domestic or sexual violence.
- One week’s leave per year for employees of companies with between 20 and 49 employees.
- Two weeks’ leave per year for employees of companies with 50 or more employees.
- Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced work schedule. However, unpaid leave under VESSA will not be provided if the employee has already used all leave allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Employees must give 48 hours’ notice of their intent to take leave.
- In the event of an unscheduled absence, the employer cannot take any action against the employee if the employee provides certification of their absence within a reasonable time.
- An employer may require employees to provide certification in addition to 48 hours’ notice. Employees may satisfy the certification requirement with a sworn statement from the employee plus certain other documentation, such as a police report or court record, detailed in VESSA.
- Upon returning from leave, an employee must be returned to the same or equivalent employment position.
- An employee must not lose accrued benefits while on leave.
- Employers must maintain health coverage for employees while they are on leave under VESSA.
- Employers may recover the health plan premium paid by the employer to maintain coverage for the employee or the employee’s family or household member if the employee does not return to work for reasons unrelated to domestic or sexual violence.
The law can be read here.
An article on the law can be read here.
What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the law and their leave policies to make the required changes. To stay in compliance, employers should also post the VESSA notice prior to October 27, 2021 for employees to see and notify current and all future employees of their VESSA rights by October 27, 2021. Employers should train their management and human resources professionals on the process and procedures for employees to request and use VESSA.