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BC government introduces amendments to the Employment Standards Act for employers to provide paid leave for workers facing domestic or sexual violence - March, 2020
Posted On: Jun 17, 2020

The Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, MLA Surrey-Newton

March 6, 2020 - Up to five days of paid leave will be available for employees impacted by domestic or sexual violence, or parents of a child or dependent impacted by this kind of violence, thanks to new legislation introduced this week in the legislature.

The BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) is applauding the BC government’s announcement. Under current laws, workers fleeing violence face lost wages, making it harder for them to access the supports and services they need.

“This announcement is a significant step forward for survivors and those dealing with violence,” said Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary Treasurer of the BCFED. “Five days of paid leave will make a real, tangible difference in people’s lives. Whether accessing the justice system, or health and mental health services—finally workers won’t face an economic burden to get the support they need.”

The BCFED has advocated since 2016 for paid leave for those experiencing domestic and sexual violence. In the fall of 2019, the BCFED mobilized thousands of workers and allies as part of an online campaign to put pressure on the BC government during its consultations on the issue.

With up to five days of paid leave from work per year, employees will be able to attend to their needs, or the needs of their dependent children or adults, without the worry of losing income from missing work. Employees will have paid leave, allowing them to attend medical, counselling or other appointments, look for a new home or school for their children, and rebuild their lives.

These amendments build on improvements made to the Employment Standards Act last year that provided up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave from work for those impacted by domestic or sexual violence. If passed, the new amendments will mean five of these days will be paid days.

“People facing domestic or sexual violence need far more supports to help them gain control of their lives than what was previously available in our province,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “We consulted broadly, we listened to what people said and we’re making another important step to add to existing supports that will make a real difference in a person’s life when they need it the most.”

“People faced with domestic and sexual violence should not have to lose pay when dealing with the aftermath,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “The changes introduced today help support people so they can attend medical appointments and make the necessary changes to ensure they and their children are safe.”

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