P.L. 2017, c. 272 required that the Civil Service Commission develop a uniform domestic violence policy, which all public employers regardless if they fall under Civil Service, must adopt and distribute to their employees. The law requires that the policy include the following:
(1) a declaration encouraging employees who are victims of domestic violence to contact their human resources officer and seek assistance;
(2) a confidential method for employees to report domestic violence incidents to human resources officers;
(3) a confidentiality policy to which human resources officers receiving reports of domestic violence must adhere, unless a domestic violence incident poses an emergent danger to employees and the involvement of law enforcement is necessary;
(4) a listing of available State and local resources, support services, treatment options, advocacy and legal services, medical and counseling services, and law enforcement assistance services for domestic violence victims;
(5) a requirement that an employee’s records pertaining to a domestic violence incident or domestic violence counseling be kept separate from the employee’s other personnel records;
(6) an explanation of the requirements of the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act"; and
(7) a requirement for the public employer to develop a plan to identify, respond to, and correct employee performance issues that may be caused by a domestic violence incident.
The law does permit a public employer to modify the uniform domestic violence policy but it may not conflict with the requirements of the law.
On Tuesday the Civil Service Commission announced the new Domestic Violence Policy. The policy is for all public employers and covers all employees including seasonal, interns, volunteers and temporary employees at any workplace. The policy outlines the requirements, including the designation of Human Resource Officer (HRO), domestic violence reporting procedures, confidentiality policy, confidentiality of employee records, New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (which applies to employees of an entity with 25 or more employees), public employer domestic violence action plan and other applicable requirements.
All public employers will be required to designate a Human Resources Officer (HRO) and a secondary HRO to assist employees who are victims of domestic violence. The HRO is the staff person who is responsible for orienting, training, counseling, and appraising staff. Both HROs will be required to receive training on responding to and assisting employees who are domestic violence victims in accordance with the policy. The first training is offered by the Civil Service Commission on the policy itself as free on-line training. The secondary training, which is undefined at this time, will be response training.
The League has contacted the Civil Service Commission for clarity on the new policy. While we support efforts to help domestic violence victims we questioned whether the policy went through the normal procedure for writing state regulations, which includes publication in the New Jersey Register and consideration of public comments before adoption. We also questioned how much consideration was given to how municipalities — especially small ones that probably don’t have a dedicated HR professional on staff — would be able to afford to implement the policy.
It is anticipated that the Division of Local Government Services will be issuing a Local Finance Notice shortly. We will continue to keep you apprised of our findings. However, we strongly suggest you review the policy and Domestic Violence resources with your administrator and municipal attorney.
Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, email@example.com; 609-695-3481 x120.