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Know the Laws: Florida

UPDATED April 12, 2017

Workplace Protections

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Florida state law provides employment protections for domestic violence victims who need to take time off from work to handle issues related to domestic violence.

Basic info about the law

back to topDo I have the right to take time off from my job to deal with domestic violence against me or a family member?

It depends. Under Florida State law, you have a right to take up to 3 days off from work in a twelve-month period so that you can take legal and medical actions to protect yourself or a family member from domestic violence. However, the law only applies to companies that have at least 50 employees and you must have been working at the company for three months or more.*

If you work at a place that has less than 50 employees, or if you have been working for your employer for less than three months, then your employer does not have to give you time off for domestic violence issues. However, different employers might have different rules, policies, or contracts, that might let you take this time off anyway. For example, some employee manuals and some union contracts might allow for employees to take time off for domestic violence issues. You can contact your union representative (if you are in a union) or contact a trusted supervisor at your job, to find out more information about what the employer offers.

Note: If you work in Miami-Dade County, then your employer has to give you up to 30 days off from work, to seek medical or dental care, legal assistance, court appearances, counseling, child support hearings, or other services or court appearances that are related to domestic violence issues.**

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(2) &(3)
** Miami-Dade Cty., Fla Code § 11A-61

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back to topWhat is considered to be “domestic violence” under the law?

Domestic violence is defined as any assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.*

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(1)(a) & 741.28(2)

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back to topI know I can take time off to help a family member who is being abused. Who is considered a “family member” under the law?

A “family member” can be a spouse or former spouse; someone related to you by blood or marriage; someone who you have a child in common with; or someone who lives/lived together with you like a family in the same apartment/house.*

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(1)(d) & 741.28(3)

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back to topWhat legal or medical actions, specifically, can I use the 1 to 3 days off from work to do?

Your employer must let you take time off from work to do the any of the following things if they are related to domestic violence for you or a family member:

  • To Get an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence (a restraining order);
  • To Get Medical Help – to see a doctor, mental health counselor, or health care professional, to take care of injuries or health problems (both physical and psychological) caused by domestic violence;
  • To Get Legal Help – to go to court, to testify in court, or to seek help from lawyers or legal counseling;
  • To Seek Domestic Violence Services—to go to a domestic violence shelter, domestic violence program or rape crisis center, if you are going to seek help for domestic violence;
  • To Make Your Home Safe From Your Abuser – to make your home safe from domestic violence, or to try to find new housing to get away from the abuser.*
* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(2)(b)

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How the law affects your salary, vacation days, etc.

back to topCan I use the 1 to 3 days guaranteed to me under the law instead of using my vacation days or sick days?

No. Before you can take the 1 to 3 days that are guaranteed to you under the law, you must first use any annual leave, vacation days, personal days or sick days (if appropriate) that you have - unless your employer specifically says otherwise.  Generally, if you do not have enough sick days, personal days, annual leave or vacation days, then you can use the Florida law to ask for 1 to 3 days off to deal with the domestic violence issues.*

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(4)(b)

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back to topDoes my employer have to pay me for the time that I take off to deal with domestic violence issues?

No. Your employer might pay you if they want to, but they do not have to pay you for the 1 to 3 days that you take off from work to address domestic violence issues.*

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(2)(a)

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What you must provide to your employer

back to topHow much notice do I need to give my employer if I need to take time off to deal with domestic violence?

You must tell your employer ahead of time (in advance), if you need to take time off from work to deal with domestic violence against you or your family member.  For example: You find out on a Tuesday that you have to go to court on Friday to testify against your abuser.  You should tell your employer on Tuesday, or as soon as possible, that you will need Friday off.

Your employer might have rules about how many days in advance an employee has to give when requesting time off.  The law says that you have to follow your employer’s rules unless there is an immediate danger to the health or safety of you or your family member that prevents you from doing so.*

Note: It might be a good idea to ask your employer in writing for the time off to deal with domestic violence issues and to keep a copy of the letter.  This way, if the employer denies you the time off, you have some proof that you asked for it in case you decide to bring legal action against the employer for violating the law.

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(4)(a)

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back to topDo I need to give my employer documentation of the domestic violence, if I take time off from work for my domestic violence situation?

Yes. Florida state law says that you must give your employer documentation (proof in writing), to show that domestic violence against you (or your family member) was the reason why you took time off from work.  Your employer has the right to decide what documents s/he needs from you.*

Florida law does not say what types of documents you need to show your employer to prove that you were off from work to handle domestic violence against you or a family member.  However, here are some possible documents that your employer might be okay with:

  • A police report showing that you took off from work because of domestic violence crime against you;
  • A court order or a letter from a court employee or your attorney, to show that you missed work to go to court; or
  • A doctor’s note or a letter from a counselor, therapist, rape crisis center, that says you took off from work to get medical help or treatment for emotional or physical injuries, from domestic violence or sexual assault.
* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(4)(a)

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What your employer can and cannot do

back to topIs it legal if my employer harasses me or tells co-workers about my situation?

No. Your employer cannot fire you, harass you, put you at a lower-ranked position, or punish you in any way, for asking for this time off or for taking this time off.*

Also, the law requires your employer to keep your domestic violence situation confidential.**  For example, your employer cannot tell your co-workers, your clients, or other employers that you took time off to deal with domestic violence.  Your employer also cannot disclose (cannot talk about or write about) the reason for your time off.  S/he must also keep private any documents that you give him/her that relate to your domestic violence situation.

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(5)(b)
** Fla. Stat. § 741.313(4)(c)

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back to topAfter taking time off from work under this law, I was one of many people laid off by my employer. Is this legal?

The law says that your employer cannot fire you or punish you because you took off time from work to address your domestic violence issues.  However, your employer can still fire you or punish you for other valid reasons (such as budget cuts, not doing your job well, or reasons that have nothing to do with your domestic violence situation).*

Note: Sometimes, an employer will offer a “fake” reason for firing someone to hide the real reason.  If you have facts or evidence that: (1) your employer is not being truthful about why s/he fired you, and (2) that the real reason s/he fired you was because you took off time for domestic violence issues, then you might want to contact an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination or the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

* Fla. Stat. § 741.313(5)(c)

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back to topIf I am subpoenaed to testify in a domestic violence case, can my employer fire me?

If you are absent from work because you were subpoenaed (ordered by the court) to testify in court in a domestic violence case, then your employer cannot fire you for your absence.  This applies whether you were the victim of domestic violence or a witness to domestic violence.  You also cannot be fired based on the content of your testimony (what you stated in court).*

* Fla. Stat. § 92.57 

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WomensLaw.org thanks Suzanne Estrella, Managing Attorney at Florida Legal Services for her help in reviewing this information.

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