B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. government proposes paid leave for domestic abuse, sexual violence victims

Survey says job-protected unpaid leave isn’t enough

The province should require employers to offer up to five days of paid leave for people recovering from domestic or sexual violence in addition to the current unpaid provisions, B.C. residents have told the province in a survey.

Labour Minister Harry Bains released the survey Tuesday, showing that 96 per cent of respondents thought paid leave was an important option to add to legislation. Bains introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act to add the paid leave option for employees and their specified family members.

The act currently provides that people dealing with domestic or sexual violence may take up to 10 non-consecutive unpaid days and 15 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave with their job protected.

The B.C. Liberal opposition quickly endorsed the change.

“This will help people who have faced domestic or sexual violence by giving them the space to rebuild their lives,” Bains told the B.C. legislature. “This may mean getting medical support, psychological support. It could mean they have the time necessary to find a new place to live or a new school for their children, without sacrificing their job or their pay.”

RELATED: Wilkinson under fire for characterizing domestic violence as ‘a tough marriage’

RELATED: B.C. NDP raises minimum working age from 12 to 16

RELATED: B.C. unions expect gains from labour code changes

The labour ministry says B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces in Canada that do not require employers to offer paid leave. Others offer between two and five days.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 30 to Oct. 8, 2019, with more than 6,000 surveys and written responses received. Survey respondents were 81 per cent women, and four per cent were employers. Adding paid leave was supported by 94 per cent of employees and 83 per cent of employers.


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