By Brenda Waters

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The City of Pittsburgh is about to join the ranks of other major American cities and offer paid safe leave for employees.

That leave would be for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, among other things. Organizations that advocate for victims of domestic abuse say the policy is long overdue.

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Stephanie Fox, a victim, says it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but more is needed.

“I’ve been stabbed with a screwdriver. I have cigarette burns all over me. I’ve had my teeth knocked out and my jaw redone. I have a bullet in the back of my leg,” she said.

Fox says she was in an abusive relationship for 14 years and lost half as many jobs because she couldn’t go to work.

But Mayor Peduto has put a plan in motion with the help of community partners by creating a policy that would provide paid safe leave for city workers.

“Safe leave, the opportunity for city employees who are victims of domestic violence to have paid time to be able to get a PFA, to be able to deal with child care,” Peduto said.

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For now, the policy would only include non-union workers, about half the city’s workforce. That amounts to about 1,500 workers. Eventually, the mayor wants to include union positions as well.

“We want to create a workplace that is a community place, a place where all employees have that benefit of being able to deal with personal situations,” Peduto said.

Bethany Wingerson, the director of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services at the Center for Victims, welcomes the policy.

“It’s necessary. I understand it’s something that is in development, and it’s great that we are there,” she said, “but it really needs to be viewed as not optional. It needs to be an inherent part of the way we provide employment.”

Peduto says it will take 90 days to formulate the policy and should be in place by July 3.

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