Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Governor Cooper Signs “Safe Days” Executive Directive Eligible state employees now able to use earned leave time for domestic violence recovery

<p>After Governor Roy Cooper earlier proclaimed October as &ldquo;Domestic Violence Awareness Month,&rdquo; he today signed an&nbsp;Executive Directive&nbsp;to support survivors of domestic violence.</p>
Oct 23, 2019

For a Fact Sheet on the Executive Directive, click HERE

After Governor Roy Cooper earlier proclaimed October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” he today signed an Executive Directive to support survivors of domestic violence. The directive permits eligible state employees in cabinet agencies to use earned leave for “safe days,” which are necessary absences from work due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

“Domestic violence survivors should have the flexibility they need to recover and protect the safety of their families,” said Governor Cooper. “Today’s Executive Directive is an important signal to state employees affected by domestic violence that we are here to support them as they rebuild their lives.”

Currently, eligible state employees can use sick leave to deal with the medical effects of domestic or sexual violence or stalking, such as to seek psychological counseling or medical attention. However, state employees must use their earned vacation leave for the non-medical effects of domestic or sexual violence or stalking, such as to meet with a lawyer, attend court proceedings, or relocate and enroll children in a new school. Allowing employees use either type of earned leave ensures they have more flexibility to take necessary absences without jeopardizing their financial security.

According to the 2019 Status of Women in North Carolina: Health and Wellness report, 35% of women in North Carolina have experienced at least one type of intimate partner or sexual violence. In 2018, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported 103 domestic violence-related homicides in North Carolina. To date, forty-seven domestic violence homicides have been committed in North Carolina this year.

Eighteen other states have enacted laws ensuring employees are guaranteed safe days. Today’s Executive Directive is an important step toward ensuring state employees have access to leave to escape and recover from violence, and Governor Cooper encourages employers across the state to offer the same guarantee to their employees.

View the Executive Directive HERE.

Leaders in Support of Safe Days Executive Directive

Sherry Honeycutt Everett, Legal and Policy Director, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence

“The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence is grateful to Governor Roy Cooper for his ongoing efforts to support state employees who are victims of domestic violence. The Directive announced today will give state employees the assurances they need that they can take steps to care for themselves or family members who are suffering from abuse, without dealing with the added strain of worrying they may be jeopardizing their livelihoods. All victims should have such assurance, and the Coalition believes this step will serve as an example to other employers around North Carolina of one way they can support their employees and help to keep them safe.”

Beth Messersmith, Senior Campaign Director, MomsRising North Carolina

“We thank and applaud Gov. Cooper for the Executive Directive he signed today, which will make it possible for state employees who have suffered violence or abuse to access earned sick and vacation leave while they get the expert help they urgently need to protect themselves and their children,” said Beth Messersmith, Senior Campaign Director for North Carolina for MomsRising, the online and on-the-ground organization of more than one million mothers and their families nationwide -- including 47,000 in North Carolina. “Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are scourges in our state and we must do everything possible to support survivors. Gov. Cooper’s Directive may well save lives. It is yet another meaningful action by the Governor and will provide tremendous help to some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable women and moms.”

Secretary Machelle Sanders, NC Department of Administration

“Governor Cooper’s Executive Directive ensures we are supporting domestic violence survivors as they work through the devastating impacts and recovery process. This measure continues the work of the administration to provide advocacy services to survivors and equip them with the tools and flexibility they need.”

Barbara Gibson, Director, NC Office of State Human Resources

“Governor Cooper’s Executive Directive makes it possible for eligible state employees to use 'safe days' for necessary absences from work as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. It is important for us to continue to support our employees and help them on their roads to recovery.”