White Plains, NY — On Tuesday the Westchester County Board of Legislators unanimously passed a measure that will give victims of domestic violence, as well as victims of human trafficking, the ability to take “safe leave” from their jobs.  The time off will permit them to deal with issues surrounding their situations, without fear of retribution from employers.

Under the measure, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking are entitled to take up to 40 hours of paid leave to attend or testify in court proceedings related to their situations, to move from an abuser’s residents, or to confer with lawyers or other advisers.

This new act, which had Democratic, Republican and Conservative sponsors, is designed to help victims in ways that are not covered by the County’s Earned Sick Leave law.

Legislator Catherine Borgia (D - Cortlandt, Croton on Hudson, Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Peekskill), one of the measure’s sponsors, said, “Safe Leave is about making sure people can get the help they need when they most need it. The legislation we passed today is a significant step toward making sure no one has to choose between their personal safety and their paycheck. Today, we say this to our residents who have experienced firsthand the pain and the loss of agency that come from being abused by a partner: We believe you, we stand with you, and we’re going to make sure that you can get to safety, and not have to choose that over your job. ”

Vice Chair Alfreda Williams (D - Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown) said, “This is a law that protects people at the most vulnerable moments in their lives, by removing worry or uncertainty they may have about keeping their jobs and maintain their incomes when they are at their most fragile, through no fault of their own.”

Majority Leader Catherine Parker (D - Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) said, “We hope that there are few workers in Westchester who need to avail themselves of Safe Leave, but we know that, sadly, domestic violence is not rare.  With this measure, people will not be double victimized by having to face consequences at their jobs while dealing with impact of domestic violence cases on their lives.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D – White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “I’m proud that the Board of Legislators has voted to make sure that victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in Westchester can get the help they need without worrying about losing their jobs or losing income.  Giving these victims some margin of safety and security in their situations is just the right thing to do.”