• What is Domestic Violence

  • Washington State provides victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the opportunity to take time off from work. This leave is available to all employees and qualifying family members.

    Victims and their family members can use domestic violence leave for:

    1. Legal or law enforcement assistance and court proceedings
    2. Medical and psychological help
    3. Help from social service programs
    4. Mental health counseling
    5. Safety planning, Relocating

    Family member means any individual whose relationship to the employee can be classified as a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or person with whom the employee has a dating relationship.

    Allowable Uses of Leave

    Employees can use any available leave including:

    • Paid time off
    • Sick leave
    • Leave without pay

    Leave can be used as a single block of time, intermittently, or on an adjusted schedule.

    Retention of pay or benefits

    The taking of leave may not result in the loss of any pay or benefits to the employee that accrued before the date on which the leave commenced.

    Upon the employee’s return, an employer shall either:

    1. Restore the employee to the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced, or
    2. Restore the employee to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
    3. To the extent allowed by law, an employer shall maintain coverage under any health insurance plan. The coverage must be maintained for the duration of the leave at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had not taken the leave.

    Discrimination

    Employers cannot retaliate or discriminate against an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking or any qualifying family member.

    Employers must accommodate requests for time off or safety accommodations, and allow employees to use any available paid or unpaid leave as needed.

    Safety accommodations

    Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and their qualifying family members can request a reasonable safety accommodation at their place of work, which can include:

    • A job transfer or reassignment.
    • Changing work telephone or email.
    • Implementation of safety procedures.

    Reasonable safety accommodations must be in response to actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers must provide reasonable safety accommodations when requested, unless they create an undue hardship.

    Documentation

    When an employee requests to use domestic violence leave or requests a reasonable safety accommodation, the employer may request that the leave or accommodation be supported by verification. Appropriate documentation can include:

    1. Police reports
    2. Court documents
    3. A statement from a provider, clergy, attorney, medical professional, or advocate.
    4. An employee’s written statement.

    Employers must protect the employee’s rights to privacy and should treat reports of domestic violence with discretion. All protected, sensitive, or confidential documentation, reports, and records must be handled according to all applicable state and federal privacy laws.

    Confidentiality

    An employee is not required to produce or discuss any information with the employer that is beyond the scope of verification or that would compromise the safety of the employee or employee’s family member.

    Employers must maintain confidentiality of all information and documentation provided by the employee.