Prince George's County

Prince George’s Proposes Sick, Safe Leave for Domestic Violence Survivors

Prince George’s County employees involved in domestic violence situations are close to receiving reprieve from their workplace.

The county council plans to hold a public hearing next month for proposed legislation that would require employers to offer employees sick and safe leave. An employee may take the day off for several reasons, including to care for a family member, take medication to recover from an injury, or for legal proceedings due to a domestic violence dispute.

According to the bill sponsored by Councilwoman Karen Toles (D-District 7), an employer would be a business in the county that employees 15 or more people.

Employers would offer a worker one hour for every 30 hours and capped at a minimum of eight days per year. A business can ask an employee to provide documentation if a person uses leave for three or more consecutive days.

A person who works at establishments who receives $30 in tips per month also can receive leave.

“We’ve seen over the past several months deaths, or near deaths occur through domestic violence,” Toles said Tuesday during a break from council meeting. “We’ve seen women get burned. We’ve seen women die. This is a real issue in our county.”

Although county officials tout low overall crime rates, Prince George’s leads the state in domestic violence incidents, including last month’s case of Laquinn Phillips, a 34-year-old southeast D.C. man charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend by setting her on fire at her Capitol Heights apartment.

State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said Oct. 10 after a hearing for Phillips that the baby, named Aaliyah Journey and born seven weeks early, would be released from the hospital and taken home by family.

Meanwhile, the county executive office’s offered an amendment Tuesday to ensure Toles’ legislation didn’t interrupt with sick leave for county government employees.

Tuesday served as the last day to introduce bill for a second time, as well as to schedule a public hearing in 30 days. Council agreed to not hold off moving the legislation and discuss the amendment next month.

“It will be passed,” Toles said of the bill. “How many times do we have to have a press conference from our state’s attorney [and] standing next to the chief of police with the family members crying about a domestic violence issue? People may not have the time and ability to take off. … We should be able to fight for them to do that.”

If approved, the legislation would go into effect 45 days after the adjournment of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

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