Reminder Regarding Domestic Violence

October 20, 2014

Governor Deval Patrick executed an emergency law on August 8, 2014, which requires employers with fifty (50) or more employees to notify their employees that they may be entitled to leave if they, or their family members, are victims of domestic abuse.

The Domestic Violence Leave law entitles victims or their family members who are victims of domestic violence to up to fifteen (15) days of leave from work in a 12-month period to seek medical, legal and support services which are necessary as a result of such abuse.

Both covered employers and employees have mutual obligations under the law. Employees are required to give advance notice of the leave to the employer unless there is an imminent threat of danger to the health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member. Under those circumstances, the employee has three (3) work days to notify the employer of the need for the leave. Employees may also be required to provide documentation that the leave was, in fact, related to domestic violence. Such documentation may not be an arrest record, conviction, or any other law enforcement action. The law enumerates what documentation is permissible.

The employer is required to maintain as confidential all documentation related to a Domestic Violence Leave. The employer may not disclose this information unless the disclosure is required under the very limited circumstances set forth in the statute. Further, the employer may not take any adverse action against an employee in the event of an unscheduled absence, if, within thirty (30) days of that absence, the employee provides sufficient documentation that the unauthorized absence was related to domestic violence.

Upon return from a Domestic Violence Leave, the employer must return the employee to the same or equivalent position. That employee may not lose any employment benefit accrued prior to the date the leave was taken.

For further information about the specific requirements under this law, please contact me directly at or at 617-330-7123.