Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

Know Your Rights

VESSA provides an employee who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, or who has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work during any 12-month period to address the domestic or sexual violence.

Effective August 25, 2003

The Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act provides an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, or who has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic violence, with up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave per any twelve (12) month period to address issues arising from domestic or sexual violence.

An employee may take VESSA leave to:

  1. Seek medical attention for, or recovery from, physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence to the employee or employee’s family or household member.
  2. Obtain victim services for the employee or employee’s family or household member
  3. Obtain psychogical or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member.
  4. Participate in safety planning, including temporary or permanent relocation or other actions to increase the safety of the victim from future domestic or sexual violence.
  5. Seek legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the victim, including participating in court proceedings related to the violence.

VESSA leave may be taken intermittently or in a reduced work schedule.

Notice and Certification Requirements

The employee shall provide the employer with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of the employee’s intention to take leave, except in such cases where it is not practicable to provide such notice.

Employers may require certification that VESSA leave is to be taken for one of the purposes listed and that the employee or employee’s family or household member is a victim of domestic or sexual iolence.  An employee may satisfy such a certification requirement by providing a sworn statement of the employee and:

  • Documentation from a victim services organization (like SACIS), attorney, member of the clergy, or medical or other professional from whom the employee or employee’s family or household member has sought assistance
  • A police or court record – or
  • Other corroborating evidence

Employers must maintain the confidentiality of all information pertaining to the use of VESSA leave, notice of an employee’s intention to take VESSA leave, and certification provided by the employee.

Penalties

If an employer is found to have violated the Act.  the department may require the employer to

  • Pay damages equal to the amount of wages, salary, employment benefits, public assistance, or other compensation denied or lost with interest
  • Provide equitable relief, including but not limited to, reinstatement, promotion and reasonable accommodations; and
  • pay reasonable attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and other costs of the action.

Enforcement

The Illinois Department of Labor administers and enforces the provisions of this Act

For More Information

Illinois Department of Labor
160 N LaSalle Street, Suite C-1300
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 793-6797

http://www.illinois.gov/idol/Pages/default.aspx

Information gathered from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Department of Human Services and Department of Labor.  A project supported by Grant #10-WF-BX-0015