Domestic violence is not just a personal issue. We know it reaches far beyond the home and into the workplace, which is why paid domestic violence leave and support for people experiencing violence can help save lives. It lets victims take the time and steps they need to keep themselves and their children safe. Dealing with violence is time consuming, and include things like finding new housing, opening a new bank account, or meeting with police and lawyers.
This is why the Canadian federal government has instituted amendments to the Canada Labour Code to include five days of paid domestic violence leave for workers in federally-regulated workplaces. This is an expansion of the already ten days of unpaid leave for workers experiencing domestic violence.
Momentum for paid leave is building across Canada, and various provinces also have their own laws to assist those experiencing and affected by domestic violence. Likewise, many local unions are now negotiating domestic violence leave clauses in their contracts, as people realize just how important this leave can be.
Let’s take a look at the different provinces offering leave.
Manitoba: The first province to legislate leave for domestic violence victims. The leave includes 10 days - five of which are paid - in a 52-week period, or 17 weeks taken in one continuous period.
Ontario: Domestic or sexual violence leave is a job-protected leave of absence, providing up to 10 days and 15 weeks in a calendar year of time off. This can be taken for specific purposes when a an employeeworker or an employeeworker’s child has experience or been threatened with domestic or sexual violence. The first five days are paid.
New Brunswick: on September 1, 2018, the New Brunswick government put into effect a leave of absence for workers if they, or their child, are victims of domestic, sexual or intimate partner violence. The leave includes up to ten days, which may be taken intermittently, or in one continuous period. There is also a separate Violence Leave of up to sixteen continuous weeks. Employees Workers are entitled to take both types of Violence Leave in any given year. The first five days of leave are paid.
Saskatchewan: The province gives a maximum of 10 days of leave for either an worker who is experiencing violence themselves, or who has a the child or someone else for whom they are a caregiver of an employeeexperiencing domestic violence, or someone for whom the employee is a caregiver. The 10 days are all unpaid. The NDP party is strongly advocating for five of these days to be paid, as well as an additional 17 weeks of leave, if needed. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada.
Alberta: Workers can take 10 days of unpaid leave for each calendar year. This leave can be taken if an act of domestic violence occurs to either the worker, the worker’s dependdependenting child, or a protected adult living with the worker.
Quebec: Workers who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence are entitled to a leave of 26 weeks over a period of 12 months. Two paid days are available under Personal Emergency Leave provisions.
Nova Scotia: In effect January 1, 2019, victims of domestic violence or parents of victims in Nova Scotia are now able to take up to 16 continuous weeks of unpaid leave. Workers are also provided 10 intermittent days to allow victims to seek out services and supports.
Prince Edward Island: Islanders are entitled to 3 paid and 7 unpaid days leave if they are experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or sexual violence in their personal relationships.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Recent amendments to the Labour Standards Act now allow victims of family violence up to ten days leave from work — three paid, and seven unpaid — to allow the chance to seek medical attention, attend counselingcounselling, or find a new home.
Domestic violence leave helps people experiencing violence take the time they need to seek help and take the steps needed to deal with and leave an abusive relationship. When there is paid leave included, it relieves financial burdens on those who otherwise cannot afford to be missing work.
While many provinces are taking steps to better support domestic violence victims and their families, there is still more to be done. Some provinces (British Columbia, PEI, Nunavut, Yukon, and the NWT) have still not introduced domestic violence leave, and the major goal is paid leave across every province, something many advocates are working toward.
We are hopeful that 2019 will add more provinces to the list of those supporting victims of family violence.
It’s simple. Domestic violence leave saves lives.