November 16, 2015
MFL President Kevin Rebeck was elated that the NDP Government of Manitoba included a commitment to enact paid workplace leave provisions for victims of domestic violence in the Speech from the Throne.
Rebeck said, “There is absolutely no doubt that we, as a society, have the responsibility to aid and support victims of domestic violence. It is appropriate that this fair and just legislation is revealed during the month of November – Domestic Violence Prevention Month.
“When people aren’t safe and secure at home, they need to know that their job is. This action by the Selinger government empowers people to act without risking their livelihood.”
Paid leave provisions permit victims of domestic violence to do what has to be done in order to protect themselves and their children trapped in a volatile situation. Sometimes that means that there will be short-term absences from the workplace to make arrangements for safer living conditions.
Rebeck said, “It’s important that victims of domestic violence are able to take some time off without losing their jobs or compromising their financial independence. They need to be able to seek a protection order, make childcare arrangements, get medical care and counselling or seek shelter. These are key considerations while laying the groundwork for escaping violent relationships.
“We know that many employers try hard to provide meaningful support to those employees affected by domestic violence, including offering time away from work. Unions also advocate for victims, promote violence prevention and gender equality and, increasingly, negotiate leave provisions in collective agreements. Amending the Employment Standards Code to provide for paid domestic violence leave for all workers will further support these approaches, with tools they can depend on and use to help build healthier workplaces.”
When enacted, this legislation will be the first of its kind in Canada and represents the culmination of two years of lobbying by the Manitoba Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress.