Today is #PurpleThursday, a day to wear purple to raise awareness around domestic violence. Domestic violence impacts us all – families, friends, co-workers and communities. And, sadly, it is the leading cause of injury to women, although everyone along the gender spectrum too, can be victims.
This #PurpleThursday though, I’d like to also raise awareness about the support available to victims of Domestic Violence as well as workplace violence. Let’s talk about paid leave from work through Seattle’s Safe Time ordinance.
Seattle made national headlines in 2011, when the City Council passed and the then mayor, Mike McGinn, signed into law the Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (PSST for short).
Under the law, Seattle workers who have been employed 180 days now accrue paid time off, based on the number of hours they have worked. That paid time can be used whenever an employee is ill or when caring for a sick family member.
Most employees and employers understand and accept the need for workers to be able to take time off when they themselves are sick or when a child is ailing. However, there is less understanding of the “Safe Time” provision in the law: Safe Time is an essential part of the protections that the city extends to those who may face issues of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and Thursday, October 22nd is #PurpleThursday). It is timely to call attention to the countless lives impacted by domestic violence, both in Seattle and across the United States. Seattle’s PSST law provides critical protection for workers, often times they are women, who find that they need to take time away from work for safety issues.
Under Seattle’s landmark law, Safe Time is designed to be used for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. It also can be used for closure of a workplace or school or day care to limit exposure to an infectious agent or hazardous material. (Say, for instance, a child’s school is closed due to flu or epidemic.)
In addition, employees can use accrued PSST hours to make a court appearance, meet with an attorney or counselor or arrange emergency housing, attend a support group or obtain childcare.
It’s important to recognize domestic violence this #PurpleThursday, honor survivors, and protect the vulnerable. And pass the word along that Safe Time exists. When residents of Seattle cannot make it to work because of a Safe Time issue, they can seek paid days off. Safe Time is a timely and important provision, and an additional reason to parade your purple today.