Domestic Violence Leave

Under the Domestic Violence Leave Act, all employees in Washington State have the right to take reasonable leave to get help or help a family member with domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Employers cannot take any negative action against an employee because the worker is an actual or perceived victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Negative actions include:

  • Discrimination.
  • Retaliation.
  • Demotion.
  • Firing.
  • Refusing to hire a qualified person.
  • Actions that negatively impact promotion, compensation, or other conditions of employment.

What can domestic violence leave be used for?

Domestic violence leave can be used to:

  • Seek legal or law enforcement help.
  • Seek treatment from a health care provider for physical or mental injuries.
  • Help a family member get services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, mental health counseling or other social service program.
  • Participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently move, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee's family member.

What type of leave can be used?

Employees can choose to use paid sick leave, other paid-time off, compensatory time or unpaid leave. This leave can be used intermittently, in a single block of time, or as part of a reduced work schedule.

Are safety accommodations required?

Employers must make reasonable safety accommodations requested by employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking unless the employer can show the accommodation would cause too much hardship.

Safety accommodations can include:

  • Job transfer, reassignment or modified work schedule.
  • Changing a work telephone number, email or workstation.
  • Implementing safety procedures (such as additional locks).

Is verification required?

Employers may require verification from employees who request leave or a reasonable safety accommodation. When an employer requires verification, employees may provide one or more of the following:

  • A written statement that the employee or employee's family member is a victim and needs assistance. 
  • A police report or court order that indicates the employee is a victim or is in need of protection.
  • Documentation from a health care provider, advocate, clergy or legal representative.


Victim of domestic violence or sexual assault? You or your family member may qualify for help with medical bills and other expenses through L&I's Crime Victims Compensation Program.


For more information:

File a Complaint:

File a Protected Leave Complaint (F700-144-000).


For questions or training opportunities, contact L&I’s Protected Leave Specialist at 360-902-4930 or

End of main content, page footer follows.

Access Washington official state portal

   © Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries. Use of this site is subject to the laws of the state of Washington.

Help us improve