ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City Council will be voting on a policy that allows City of Rochester employees who are victims of domestic violence to take paid leave. This policy will ensure employees can take time to seek the assistance and/or protection they need.
It is proposed by City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot and has the support of Mayor Lovely Warren.
“We want to let them know that we care. Even though they are silent voices, we want to let them know that we want them to feel comfortable to be able to go and get help and remove any barriers from that happening,” Lightfoot said.
It is a move that is welcomed by organizations like the Willow Domestic Violence Center. They say oftentimes victims don’t come forward to report something or to get help they need because of fears of losing their jobs. The proposal would break that barrier.
“To be able to leave work or take time away from work to go to court, to seek medical services, mental health services, to arrange themselves seeking housing or shelter somewhere, that’s often the barrier that causes survivors not to be able to access any services,” said Lisa Nolan, Director of Prevention Education. “So for the city to recognize that and then say ‘hey, we want to give you the time we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this and then we’ll figure it out later’ is amazing.”
The proposal is timely as reports of domestic violence have increased statewide and locally since the pandemic started.
“Our calls to the hotline are up a bit. I think the last time we looked it was six to seven percent,” Nolan said. “What we are seeing a lot more now is survivors calling. and it’s just not, I think something is happening, or I need some resources. It is, I’m in crisis right now. It’s really bad. and the severity of what we’re hearing is far beyond what we’ve seen in the past.”
“We think it’s going to help some individuals get out of very tough situations,” said Lightfoot.
The vote will be done during next week’s city council meeting.