Province Announces Legislation for Paid Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

November 25, 2015


The Manitoba government will be introducing groundbreaking proposed changes to the Employment Standards Code that would give victims of domestic violence the right to time off work without fear of job loss, give employees a new leave for long-term illness and injury, and extend the length of leave for compassionate care, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun has announced.

“When there is violence at home, you shouldn’t have to worry about holding onto your job as you escape and rebuild,” said Minister Braun.  “This proposed first-in-Canada legislation would ensure that victims of domestic violence have financial security, job protection and flexibility to take time away from work to recover from violence.”

Under the proposed legislation, employees who are victims of domestic violence would be entitled to take a leave of absence in a broad range of circumstances including:

• up to 10 days to use intermittently or in consecutive days, as needed; and
• an additional continuous period of leave of up to 17 weeks.

These proposed leaves would be available in each 52-week period, with up to five days of leave being paid, Minister Braun added.

The minister noted the proposed legislation is in keeping with Manitoba’s innovative approach to crime prevention initiatives, and would ensure the province remains a leader in addressing the issue of domestic violence.

“Our ‘Can Work Be Safe When Home Isn’t?’ survey clearly showed that a significant number of workers experience domestic violence, and that the violence follows people to work, putting jobs and workplace safety at risk,” said Barb Byers, secretary-treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress.  “Everyone deserves to be safe and supported at work.”

“There are so many other barriers to leaving abusive relationships,” said Kevin Rebeck, President, Manitoba Federation of Labour.  “Worrying about losing your job shouldn’t have to be another one.  Job protection and income security can make the critical difference in supporting victims to escape violence.”

SAFE Work Manitoba is a provincial prevention organization responsible for promoting and delivering services related to workplace injury and illness prevention.  It would support the proposed legislation by educating employers about domestic violence and practical strategies to make workplaces safer, Minister Braun said.

“SAFE Work Manitoba provides training and resources for workplaces to ensure they have an effective harassment and violence prevention program that includes domestic violence,” said Jamie Hall, chief operating officer, SAFE Work Manitoba.

The minister noted the proposed legislation builds on Manitoba’s Multi-year Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy, introduced in 2012, which recognizes the importance of using a comprehensive approach to ending domestic violence.

The month of November is recognized annually as Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

“Thousands of Manitobans are victims of domestic violence each year and they often suffer alone,” said Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, minister responsible for the status of women. “This proposed legislation would be another step forward in helping victims escape violence and raising awareness about the effects of domestic violence to make our work places and communities safer for everyone.”

e proposed legislation would also provide for leave for employees to deal with a long-term illness of injury, and extend compassionate care leave to help workers care for a loved one, Minister Braun noted.
Both of these proposed changes would allow eligible workers to access corresponding federal employment insurance benefits, Minister Braun added.