Berkshire Bank enhances paid and protected leave for employees experiencing gender-based violence

Berkshire Bank
3 min readDec 11, 2020

Berkshire Bank announced enhanced protections that will provide its 1,500 employees with paid and protected leave to manage the consequences of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Berkshire Bank has partnered with FreeFrom, non-profit creating pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence, to increase its existing leave policies to benefit its employees.

The enhanced policy gives employees 15 days of leave a year to seek medical care, attend court proceedings, and relocate — all without missing a paycheck or depleting their accrued sick or vacation days. Since 2014, Berkshire Bank has had a domestic violence leave policy in place in compliance with relevant state laws. These new enhancements go beyond the mandated requirements of state laws to offer additional support for survivors and their families impacted by this type of abuse.

Berkshire Bank employees will also now have access to FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a tool that is designed to assist survivors of domestic abuse in understanding whether they are eligible for compensation to cover some of the costs of the harm they experienced. In addition, Berkshire plans to collaborate with FreeFrom as part of its Survivor Safety Banking Initiative to explore how to design products and policies to better support customers that have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse, which coincides with Berkshire’s mission-based approach to banking. This approach eliminates barriers to access for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences by providing innovative financial solutions including an online account opening experience that will help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

“Action matters, and we are proud to partner with FreeFrom to enhance our existing leave policies and provide additional resources for survivors of gender-based violence,” said Sean Gray, Acting CEO and President of Berkshire Bank. “As we honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, this enhancement for our employees and collaboration with FreeFrom is an important component to living our Be FIRST vision and values while building a successful and meaningful culture where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential.”

“COVID-19 has laid bare the staggering lack of infrastructure in place in the U.S. to support survivors,” said Sonya Passi, CEO of FreeFrom. “Disrupting the cycle of violence requires every member of our society to step up and take responsibility for solving this systemic problem. For employers, this means implementing policies that support employees who experience this type of harm in building the financial security they need to stay safe. With the implementation of their new survivor paid and protected leave policy, Berkshire Bank has emerged as a corporate leader in the movement against gender-based violence in the U.S.”

Berkshire Bank is a longstanding partner with non-profit organizations across its footprint working to address gender-based violence, such as the Elizabeth Freeman Center, Interval House, Casa Myrna and provides philanthropic support, volunteer services, and financial coaching to help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

Learn more in FreeFrom’s recently released report, Survivors Know Best: How to Disrupt Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 and Beyond, available here.



Berkshire Bank

Berkshire Bank is a socially responsible community-dedicated bank with locations primarily in New England and New York empowering your financial potential.