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Time Off and Leave

Victims Economic Security and Safety Leave

The Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), enacted in 2003, and amended in 2009,is designed to promote the State's interest in reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by enabling victims of domestic or sexual violence to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize the physical and emotional injuries from domestic or sexual violence, and to reduce the devastating economic consequences of domestic or sexual violence to employees. It gives employees the right to 12 weeks unpaid leave (accrued benefits may be used to remain in paid status) for each consecutive 12-month period for which eligibility criteria have been met.

Employees are entitled, on return from leave, to be restored to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced or to an equivalent position with equal pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment.

Frequently Asked Questions about VESSA are available in Adobe Acrobat format.

Specific information on the following topics can be found below:

Eligibility
Approval and Documentation
Length of leave
Benefits continuation
Compensation
Returning from leave
Policies


Eligibility

All employees at the University are eligible for 12 weeks of VESSA leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons.

  • To seek medical help and recover from physical or psychological injuries caused by domestic or sexual violence to the employee or employee's family or household member.
  • To obtain victim's services, psychological or other counseling, and legal assistance or remedies, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or derived from domestic or sexual violence.
  • To participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase health and safety, or to ensure economic safety of covered persons.

Approval and Documentation

When leave is foreseeable, employees shall provide their supervisor with not less than 48 hours notice before the leave is to begin. If not foreseeable 48 hours in advance, the employee shall provide notice as is practicable.

To apply for VESSA leave, employees must submit the following documents to their supervisor.

VESSA Application and Supporting Documentation

VESSA Application (Adobe Acrobat)
VESSA Application (Microsoft Word)

Additional supporting documentation must be included with the application, in the form of:

  • Documentation from the 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; or
  • a police or court record; or
  • other corroborating evidence.

Medical Certification

The FMLA Medical Certification is required in addition to the VESSA application, if leave is due to a serious health condition of the employee or employee's household member.

For Employee's Serious Health Condition: Acrobat format | Rich text format
For Family Member's Serious Health Condition: Acrobat format | Rich text format

Leave of Absence Information and Form
Leave of Absence Information and Form (Rich Text Format)


Length of Leave

Employees are entitled up to 12 workweeks of VESSA leave during each consecutive twelve-month period for which eligibility criteria have been met. The initial 12-month period is measured forward from the date the employee first takes VESSA leave. The next 12-month period begins the first time VESSA leave is taken after completion of any previous 12-month period.

This Act does not create a right for the employee to take a leave that exceeds the leave time allowed under, or in addition to, the leave time permitted by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For employees on VESSA leave who are also eligible for FMLA leave, VESSA leave time is not in addition to the 12-week FMLA entitlement when the reason for VESSA leave also qualifies under FMLA. In this instance, both the VESSA and FMLA entitlement would be depleted. An employee who may have exhausted all available leave under FMLA, for a purpose other than that which is available under VESSA, remains eligible for leave under VESSA.


Benefits Continuation

State of Illinois Benefits

While employees are on an eligible VESSA leave, State benefits shall be continued by the University at the same level of coverage that would have been provided if the employee had remained in continuous employment.

Employees on a paid VESSA leave will continue to have their premium portion deducted from their paycheck. Employees on unpaid VESSA leave will be billed for their premium portion. If the employee does not make required payments during the leave period, the CMS Group Insurance Division (GID) will terminate the member's coverage the first day of the current month. These members are ineligible to continue coverage under COBRA and will not receive a COBRA notification letter (eligible or ineligible). CMS will take action to collect all outstanding premium(s), which may include involuntary withholding. Employees are to contact the Benefits Service Center for information on changes in status and to arrange for billing prior to their last day of work.

The University may recover the premiums paid for maintaining coverage for employees if the employee fails to return from VESSA leave for a reason other than continuous, recurrence, or onset of domestic or sexual violence or other circumstances beyond the control of the employee. Certifications of such conditions may be required by the University.

University employees may continue insurance coverage in excess of the University's contribution by contacting the Benefits Center prior to the last day of paid employment to make arrangements for premium payments.

University of Illinois Benefits

Employees continue to receive the same University benefits as when not on VESSA leave.

State Universities Retirement System

To determine the effect of leave on the accumulation of service time for retirement and to assure continuation of contributions, contact SURS.


Compensation

Employees have the option to take VESSA leave with or without pay. To continue in pay status, employees must use accrued sick or vacation leave in accordance with University leave provisions.

Accrued leave used will be counted toward the 12-week VESSA entitlement. If applicable, accrued leave used will also be counted toward the FMLA entitlement. Any portion of the 12-week period for which accrued leave is not charged shall be without pay.

For care of a family member with a serious health condition or injury or for the employee's serious health condition or injury, leave is provided under the terms and conditions of University sick leave policies. Sick leave used for this purpose will be counted toward the 12-week entitlement (or any part thereof).


Returning from Leave

Ordinarily, an employee who has been absent for VESSA leave shall be restored to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced, or to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. If the University would not otherwise have employed the employee at the time reinstatement is requested, the University may deny restoration to employment.

For Civil Service employees, restoral to the same or equivalent position shall be contingent on the expected continuation of the appointment and shall be in accordance with the State Universities Civil Service System Statute and Rules 250.120.

An employee on leave may be required to report periodically to the supervisor or unit head on his or her status and intention to return to work.

Extended Leave

Benefits under VESSA expire after 12 weeks of usage. An employee seeking approval of an extension of leave beyond the 12-week VESSA entitlement shall present a written request to his or her supervisor, which shall be acted upon pursuant to departmental procedures and in accordance with University policies related to leaves of absence.


Policies

Select from the appropriate campus and employee group for specific policy information.

University Policy
Victims Economic Security and Safety Leave

Civil Service Statute and Rules
Section 250.120 - Seniority

Policy and Rules for Civil Service Staff
Rule 10.01 - Sick Leave Usage and Approval
Rule 11.07 - Family and Medical Leave
Rule 11.16 - Victims Economic Security and Safety Leave
Rule 11.09 - Disability Leave
Rule 11.10 - Leave Without Pay/Extension of Certain Benefits Coverage

Campus Policies
Urbana: Family and Medical Leave | Continued Employment of Persons Receiving Disability Payments
Chicago: Family and Medical Leave | Disability Leave of Absence
Springfield: Contact the campus Human Resources Office.


Maintained by University Human Resources | Contact Information | Last Update: 17-November-2011 | ID: 2594