Paid domestic violence leave gets boost in 2018 federal budget

March 9, 2018

Canada’s unions are celebrating the federal government’s recent announcement that it plans to amend the Canada Labour Code to include five days of paid domestic violence leave for workers in federally-regulated workplaces. This news expands on last year’s promise of ten days of unpaid leave for workers experiencing domestic violence.

“Canada’s unions have been advocating for paid domestic violence leave for years. What started as a relatively modest undertaking with a national study, resulted in important insight into the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. Now we are seeing real progress,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

Yussuff commended Manitoba for being the first province to introduce paid domestic violence leave in 2016. Manitoba now provides all workers the right to five paid days of domestic violence leave, plus an additional ten unpaid days. When necessary, a worker can request up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave without jeopardizing their employment. Earlier this year, Ontario also introduced five paid days of leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and if necessary, up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave.

“Paid domestic violence leave for people experiencing violence helps them take steps that can help keep themselves and their children safe. Dealing with violence is time consuming – especially when it comes to tasks like finding housing, opening a bank account, or meeting with lawyers and the police, a lot of which has to happen during office hours,” said CLC Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker.

Momentum for paid leave is building across Canada. Many local unions have now negotiated domestic violence leave clauses. However, Canada’s unions want this right extended to all workers, so across Canada, workers are calling on their provincial and territorial governments to amend their Employment Standards and offer paid domestic violence leave to any worker who needs it.

Paid leave is one of many forms of support people who experience domestic violence can access in their workplace. The CLC has developed training for stewards and union representatives, to empower them to identify and respond when a member is dealing with domestic violence. Our Domestic Violence at Work Online Resource Centre has resources for individuals, representatives and unions who want to learn more and support others. Canada’s unions are also proud to have negotiated support for victims of domestic violence in many workplace collective agreements.

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