3.2.10 – Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) Leave
POLICY: In compliance with Illinois State law 820 ILCS 180/1-999, Spoon River College allows eligible employees that are victims of domestic, sexual, or gender violence up to twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid, job protected, leave to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance.
This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees.
Family or Household Member: Includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren and other persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, person who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers as defined in Section 12-4.4a of the Criminal Code of 2012.
Parent: The biological parent of an employee or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a son or daughter. “Son or daughter” means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is under 18 years of age, or is 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence means abuse, as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1886, by a family or household member, as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
Sexual Violence: Sexual violence means physical sexual acts attempted or perpetrated against a person’s will or when a person is incapable of giving consent, including without limitation rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.
Gender Violence: Gender violence means: (A) one or more acts of violence or aggression satisfying the elements of any criminal offense under the laws of this State that are committed, at least in part, on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sex or gender, regardless of whether the acts resulted in criminal charges, prosecution, or conviction; (B) a physical intrusion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions satisfying the elements of any criminal offense under the laws of this State, regardless of whether the intrusion or invasion resulted in criminal charges, prosecution, or conviction; (C) or a threat of an act described in item (A) or (B) causing a realistic apprehension that the originator of the threat will commit the act.
Workweeks: Means the number of hours in the employee’s normal workweek at the percentage of the employee’s appointment. For example, an employee scheduled to work 20 hours per week, 12 months per year, would be eligible for twelve 20-hour workweeks or 240 hours in a rolling 12 month period.
Provisions of Victims’ Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA): A Spoon River College employees who is a victim of domestic, sexual or gender violence or has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic, sexual, or gender violence whose interests are not adverse to the employee as it relates to the domestic, sexual or gender violence may take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid, job protected leave on a rolling 12 month basis for any of the following:
Seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence to the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
Obtaining services from a victim services organization for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
Obtaining psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member;
Participating in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase the safety of the employee or the employee’s family or household member from future domestic or sexual violence or ensure economic security; or
Seeking legal assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s family or household member, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or derived from domestic, sexual or gender violence.
Certification of Eligibility: The College may require the employee provide certification that:
The employee or the employee’s family or household member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence and that the leave is for one of the purposes in item 1 above. An employee may satisfy the certification requirement by providing a sworn statement and the following documents:
documentation from an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, or a medical or other professional from whom the employee or the employee’s family or household member has sought assistance in addressing domestic or sexual violence and the effects of the violence;
a policy or court record; or
other corroborating evidence.
Documentation for Requesting VESSA Leave: The College requires not less than forty-eight (48) hour advance notice for foreseeable leaves. If the leave is not “foreseeable,” the College requires notice as soon as possible. The College monitors the leave and may require periodic progress reports. An employee may apply for VESSA leave by completing the VESSA Leave Application Form and submitting it to the Human Resources Office. Failure to provide required certification within 15 calendar days may result in denial of leave.
Employee Status and Benefits During Leave:
The College continues all health care benefits for the employee and contributes the same amount to the health plan as if the employee were actively employed.
Currently, the employee pays a portion of the health care premium. While using paid time off the College will continue to make payroll deductions to collect the employee’s share of the premium. While on unpaid leave, the employee must continue to make this payment, either in person or by mail. The payment must be received in the Payroll Office by the first day of each month. If the payment is more than 30 days late, the employee’s health care coverage may be dropped for the duration of the leave. The College will provide written notification 15-days prior to the employee’s loss of coverage.
There is no gain or loss of seniority during the leave.
In order for the employee to receive Illinois State Universities Retirement System (SURS) service and earnings credit, the employee must follow the guidelines outlined for leaves in the SURS Member Guide.
Employee is prohibited from collecting unemployment insurance while on VESSA leave.
Employee Use of Paid and Unpaid Leave: The employee is required to exhaust sick time prior to opting for no pay.
Employee Status after Leave: Employees are entitled, on return from leave, to be restored to the position held when the leave commenced or to an equivalent position with equal pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment.
Concurrent Leave: VESSA leave will run concurrently with FMLA leave, including workers’ compensation leave (to the extent that it qualifies) when the reason for VESSA leave also qualifies under FMLA.
Intermittent or Reduced VESSA Leave: Leave under VESSA may be taken all at one time or on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.
Confidentiality: All information provided to the College, including a statement of the employee or any other documentation, record, or corroborating evidence, and the fact that the employee has requested or obtained leave, is retained in the strictest confidence, except to the extent that disclosure is requested or consented to in writing by the employee, or otherwise required by applicable federal or state law.
Employees on Disciplinary Action: Employees on formal or informal disciplinary action are entitled to VESSA leave.
Layoffs and Reorganizations: In the event of reorganization, layoff, or similar action, employees are subject to whatever job changes that might have occurred whether or not the employee was on leave and is subject to contractual provisions imposed on other bargaining unit employees.
The employee obtains and completes a VESSA Application Form (available in the Human Resources Office or S:\SRC Info\Forms Printable), at least forty eight (48) hours prior to the anticipated leave date when possible, provides certification of eligibility, and discusses the intention with the appropriate supervisor and the Human Resources Director. In cases of emergency, contact the appropriate supervisor as soon as possible.
The employee meets with the Human Resources Director to review the request. The Human Resources Director makes a decision in accordance with the Spoon River College policy and notifies the employee in writing of the decision.
The Human Resources Director informs the appropriate supervisor of the employee’s VESSA leave.
If VESSA is denied, an employee may file a grievance per the appropriate collective bargaining unit agreement (if applicable).
The Human Resources Office assists the employee to gather proper documentation required for taking VESSA leave. The Human Resources Director monitors the leave and provides necessary information to the employee’s supervisor.
During the final week of VESSA, employees are required to contact the Human Resources Director to make reinstatement arrangements.