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Missouri Law Now Requires Employers to Provide Unpaid Leave for Employees Who Are Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

As with every new administration comes new employment laws at both federal and state levels. Missouri has joined over 30 states and now requires unpaid leave for Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence under the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA).

Effective August 28, 2021, Missouri employers with at least 20 employees must provide leave and accommodations for employees who are victims (or their family or household member) of domestic or sexual violence under the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA). Under this new statue, covered employers must notify current employees of their right to the VESSA leave by October 27,2021 or upon commencement of employment for anyone hired by the employer after this date.

Under VESSA the amount of unpaid leave available to an employee will vary depending on the number of employees employed by the employer.

  • Employers with 1-19 employees = no such leave applies
  • Employers with 20-49 employees= one (1) week of unpaid leave per year
  • Employers with 50 or more employees= two (2) weeks of unpaid leave per year
Missouri employers with 20 or more employees are required to:
  1. To notify existing employees of their rights under the new law no later than October 27, 2021, and thereafter newly hired employees must receive notice of VESSA rights when their employment begins
  2. Post the required employment poster.(click here)
  3. Revise their handbooks and policies to reflect all the compliance requirements with Missouri's new law including qualifying reasons for VESSA leave, certification and recordkeeping requirements, notice requirements, and definition of family/household member.
Comparable to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leave frameworks, an employee who takes leave must return to the same or other equivalent position upon returning from a VESSA leave of absence and the employer cannot deny an employee of any employment benefits they had prior to going out on leave. VESSA cannot exceed the amount of unpaid time allowed under FMLA for those employers who must abide by the FMLA regulations. The statute also permits leave to be taken all at once, as well as intermittently or on a reduced work schedule.

Employers should implement the new policy and ensure to meet the posting requirement before October 27, 2021. In addition, employers may want to proactively train their managers and human resources professionals on the new law and identify their obligations under VESSA or other applicable laws (such as FMLA and other leaves).

For help in understanding VESSA, developing Employee communications, VESSA policy or updating your handbook, please reach out to us at any time.

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