Bay State Senate OKs Domestic Violence Leave Law

May 17, 2010 ( – The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a measure requiring employers to give employees who are victims of domestic violence up to 15 days off, paid or unpaid, to seek medical or legal help.

An Associated Press report said the bill, which now moves on to the Massachusetts House, does not apply to firms with fewer than 50 workers.

Under the bill, workers seeking the leave would first have to use up their accumulated sick and vacation time and would be required to furnish their employer proof of their domestic violence status, such as a court restraining order, a police report, or medical documents.

The bill passed on a 36-0 vote, according to the news account.

Fear of losing a job is a barrier to escaping violence, especially for mothers supporting themselves and young children, said Maureen Gallagher, policy director for Jane Doe Inc., a domestic violence advocacy group.

“It’s often an issue for victims if they need to go to court,’’ Gallagher told the Associated Press. The bill “provides for individuals to have some time off to do those things without jeopardizing their employment.’’