Illinois Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) leave

Purpose

VESSA leave is absence to address issues arising from being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or having a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

Eligibility

Service. This leave has no length of service requirement.

Provisions

Holding the job. The job is held for up to 12 weeks in any 12 month period. In the case of intermittent leave of absence taken through a reduced work schedule, the job may be held for the time equivalent to 12 weeks of the employee's work schedule.

Pay. VESSA leave can be taken either without pay or staff may use accrued vacation, personal floating holiday time, Extended Sick Time (if approved by the claims administrator), or Incidental Sick Time to care for him or herself or a family member. While Incidental Sick Time is limited to seven calendar days immediately prior to an approved Extended Sick Time absence, there are specific circumstances when a staff member or instructional faculty member may use up to their annual allowance of Incidental Sick Time. These circumstances arise when:

  • Staff members with less than six months of service are unable to work due to their own illness (this includes birth of a child),
  • Staff members have been approved for intermittent FMLA and need to be away from work, and,
  • Staff members must care for a sick family member and be absent from work.

Benefits. An individual on a paid VESSA leave will continue to have benefits coverage. The University continues to pay the employer contribution. If enrolled in the dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) this benefit is frozen until the individual returns from leave. The dependent care FSA can only be used when the employee is actively at work. Commuter benefits are temporarily terminated when on a leave of absence. This only be used when the employee is actively at work.The deadline to make changes to commuter benefits is the 5th of the month prior. Please make any necessary changes prior to that deadline. For additional question on the commuter benefits, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/payroll/payment/pretax-transit/.

Unpaid leave. An individual on an unpaid leave will be billed for benefits coverage. The employee does have the option to waive some or all benefits while on an unpaid leave. This is done in myHR after the leave of absence is entered into the system and processed. The dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) is temporarily frozen during a leave of absence. Commuter benefits are temporarily terminated when on a leave of absence. This benefit can only be used when the employee is actively at work. The deadline to make changes to commuter benefits is the 5th of the month prior. Please make any necessary changes prior to that deadline. For additional question on the commuter benefits, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/payroll/payment/pretax-transit/.

How to Apply for a VESSA Leave

Application. Staff members and instructional faculty members must provide The Hartford with at least 48 hours advance notice of their intention to take a VESSA leave, unless providing such notice is not practical. You can contact The Hartford at 1-888-541-7283. Click here to view the step by step process of applying for a leave. 

End of Leave

Return to work. At the expiration of an FMLA leave, staff members and instructional faculty members return to the same or an equivalent position as was held when the leave began.

Extension. If the leave of absence extends longer than the approved period, the staff member or instructional faculty member must request an extension from The Hartford prior to the expiration of the FMLA leave. If the staff member or instructional faculty member does not return from the leave of absence and does not request an extension, their employment will be subject to termination.