Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act Leave

adopted: Dec-2003
last revised: Nov-2008

The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act, (“VESSA”), provides unpaid leave and certain other benefits to eligible employees who are, or whose family or household members are, victims of domestic or sexual violence. It is the policy of the College to comply fully with VESSA.

The College permits employees who are, or whose family or household members are, victims of domestic or sexual violence (as defined below) to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during a rolling 12-month period, measured backward from the date on which any leave is taken. Available leave is determined by subtracting the number of weeks of VESSA leave taken during the 12 month “look back” period from the 12-week total allowed.

Specifically, an employee may take VESSA leave to:

  • 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;
  • Obtain victim services for the employee’s or employee’s family or household member;
  • Obtain psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
  • 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; or
  • 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 on a reduced work schedule. Employees may request further information about these options from the Human Resources Department.

Whenever an employee is granted leave for reasons which would entitle the employee to leave under VESSA, the leave will be counted against an employee’s 12-week VESSA leave entitlement. Any FMLA leave taken by an employee will also be counted against the employee’s available leave under VESSA. VESSA leave will be counted against an employee’s available leave under the FMLA if the reason for the VESSA leave would also entitle the employee to take FMLA leave.

Requesting VESSA Leave
Employees who wish to take VESSA leave must follow the College’s usual notice requirements for reporting an absence, unless such notice is not practicable. Employees may be required to provide additional documentation certifying that VESSA leave is being taken for one of the purposes listed above, and that the employee or employee’s family or household member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Such documentation may include a sworn statement from the employee, documentation from a victim services organization, attorney, member of the clergy, or medical or other professional from whom the employee or the employee’s family or household member has sought assistance; a police or court record, or other corroborating documentation. If the employee does not provide this information, VESSA leave may not be granted and/or maintained and their absence may be considered unexcused.

Pay and Benefits During VESSA Leave
VESSA leave is unpaid. However, employees may elect to use accrued, unused paid leave benefits concurrently with VESSA leave to receive pay for the leave period, subject to the terms and conditions under the applicable paid leave policies. Employees may elect to continue their health and life insurance coverage during VESSA leave. Employees on VESSA leave will not be charged more than other employees for health insurance premiums. Employees on unpaid VESSA leave will be instructed on how to pay their share of the insurance premiums during leave. Employees who fail to pay insurance premiums in a timely manner as instructed during VESSA leave may be dropped from coverage until they return to work at the conclusion of the VESSA leave.

Reporting During VESSA Leave and Return From Leave
During VESSA leave, employees will be required to maintain contact with the Director of Human Resources to verify their status and their intent to return to work. The employee is responsible for timely requesting any desired extension of a previously-approved VESSA leave.

An employee who timely returns from VESSA leave will generally be reinstated to the same position that the employee would have held had the employee not taken leave, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee’s use of VESSA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned or was entitled to before using VESSA leave.

However, an employee has no greater right to reinstatement or to other benefits and conditions of employment than if the College had continuously employed the employee during the VESSA period. Therefore, an employee who would have been terminated, laid off or reassigned had he or she been on active status may not be reinstated.

Reasonable Accommodation
The College will provide reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified employees who have known limitations resulting from circumstances relating to being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, as defined below, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship upon the operations of the College. Employees who require a reasonable accommodation under this policy should notify the Director of Human Resources and must cooperate with the College’s efforts to determine whether an accommodation is necessary, and, if so, to identify an appropriate accommodation.

The College will comply with VESSA’s requirements regarding the confidentiality of information relating to an employee’s request for leave or accommodation under this policy.