Policies & Contracts

526 - Victims' Economic Security and Safety Leave

Subject: Victims' Economic Security and Safety Leave

Section: U526

Date: July, 2017


To provide guidelines when employees need time off due to domestic or sexual violence.

who is governed by this policy:

This policy applies to all employees of the University.

Policy statement:

The University will grant employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence or who have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence unpaid leave under the Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) for up to 12 weeks during any rolling 12-month period to address issues arising from domestic or sexual violence. The University will protect the confidentiality of information provided as part of a VESSA leave.

  1. All employees of the University are eligible to take VESSA leave.
  2. Employees may request VESSA leave for absences for the following reasons related to domestic or sexual violence:
    • Medical treatment;
    • Victim services;
    • Counseling;
    • Safety planning including temporary or permanent relocation or other actions to increase the safety of the victim;
    • Court proceedings; or
    • Legal or other assistance.
  3. To request a leave, an employee must submit a completed VESSA Leave Request Form and related documents to the employee's supervisor, the department's Human Resources Partner (HRP), or HR Leave Administration (leaveadministration@uchicago.edu). Employees should submit the request at least 48 hours prior to the need for leave. If an employee cannot provide advance notice, the employee must submit the request as soon as feasible under the circumstances.
  4. In addition to the completed request form, an employee must submit the following documentation to Leave Administration: 
    • Documentation from a victim services organization, attorney, health care provider, or other professional from whom assistance has been sought;
    • A police record; or
    • Other corroborating written evidence of the need for leave.
  5. If a department/unit learns that an employee's absence may be for a VESSA-qualifying reason, the employee's supervisor or HRP should contact Leave Administration immediately. The leave tentatively may be designated as VESSA leave pending the employee's completion of the application process and notification from Leave Administration.
  6. VESSA leave may be taken in a block of time, on an intermittent basis, or in the form of a reduced work schedule.
  7. Employees on VESSA leave are expected to be reasonably responsive to and communicate with their supervisor and department during the leave. Employees may be required to provide certification for absences. Employees also must follow attendance rules and call-in procedures for reporting an absence or the absence may be deemed unexcused or unscheduled.
  8. An employee may use his/her accrued sick leave during VESSA leave. (See Policy U512 Sick Leave.) Accrued vacation and personal holidays also may be used during any VESSA leave. (See Policy U509 Vacation and U511 Personal Holidays.) An employee may be eligible for Short-Term Disability payments for VESSA leave for his/her own illness. (See Policy U513 Short-Term Disability and U512 Sick Leave for guidelines regarding the use of accrued sick leave and STD as part of VESSA and/or FMLA leave.)
  9. If the VESSA leave also qualifies for FMLA leave, the VESSA and FMLA leaves will run concurrently.
  10. During VESSA leave, the University will maintain benefits on the same conditions as if the employee is working, subject to applicable plan documents and law. During VESSA leave, an employee must continue to pay the employee's portion of insurance benefit premiums if the employee wishes coverage to continue during the leave.
  11. An employee returning from a VESSA leave of up to twelve (12) weeks will be reinstated to his/her former or an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, and conditions of employment unless the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his/her former job with or without reasonable accommodation.
  12. If an employee does not return to work when the VESSA leave expires and has not been approved for an additional leave of absence or other reasonable accommodation as required by law, employment will be terminated effective on the first scheduled workday that is missed following the expiration of the VESSA leave.
  13. If this policy conflicts with applicable law, the law governs.

key definitions:

Word/Phrase Definition
Family or Household Member A family or household member for employees with a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, means a spouse, parent, son, daughter, other person related by blood or by present or prior marriage, other person who shares a relationship through a son or daughter, and persons jointly residing in the same household. This definition applies only to this VESSA Policy 526, and not to other University policies or benefits referencing family members or similar terminology.

roles and responsibilities:

Governed Party Roles and Responsibilities 
Employee The Employee is responsible for submitting a completed VESSA Leave Request Form and any additional necessary documentation to their supervisor, HR Partner or Leave Administration. 
Supervisor The Supervisor is responsible for setting time off request procedures, ensuring they are followed, staying in contact with the employee on leave as appropriate, and approving the time off calendar. 
HR Partner The HR Partner is responsible to act as a liaison to ensure employees and Leave Administration have all necessary information. 

related information:

Policy U304 Compensable Time, Record-Keeping, and Tracking Absences

Policy U509 Vacation

Policy U511 Personal Holidays

Policy U512 Sick Leave

Policy U513 Short-Term Disability

Policy U522 Family and Medical Leave of Absence

key contacts:

Name Email Extension
Center of Expertise - Benefits: Leave Administration leaveadministration@uchicago.edu 2-8712

Employees represented by a union may be governed by the appropriate bargaining unit agreement.