Recent changes to employment standards in BC provide job-protected, unpaid leave for people who need time away from work after facing domestic or sexual violence. Before, people escaping, recovering or rebuilding their lives had no ability to take time from their jobs to find the solutions needed to make life safer for themselves and their families unless their employer agreed to the leave. In Canada, in addition to providing unpaid job-protected leave, most provinces and the federal government require employers to provide paid leave for victims of domestic or sexual violence ranging from 2-5 days.
The BC NDP Government recently launched a consultation on implementing paid leave. At the national level, PSAC has long been advocating for paid leave to be included in the Canada Labour Code and PSAC BC was pleased to make an organizational submission to the provincial government, which is copied below.
Submission to the Government of British Columbia regarding paid leave for people experiencing sexual or domestic violence
Who we are
The Public Service Alliance of Canada BC Region represents 18,000 workers employed in large and small communities throughout British Columbia. PSAC BC members work for the federal government, agencies, and crown corporations and in the transportation, security, and community service sector.
Nationally, the Public Service Alliance of Canada is one of the country’s largest unions, representing over 180,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada and in locations around the world.
PSAC members see and recognize the impacts of domestic and sexual violence in their workplaces and have asked their union to advocate and campaign on this issue. PSAC also believes that providing paid leave will be an important step on the road to achieving gender equity.
Domestic and sexual violence impacts work life
The trauma and stress that workers who experience domestic violence affects their ability to do their job. For many, the violence doesn’t stop when they get to work.
A national study by the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children found that over a third of people have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner.
Over half of those who have experienced domestic violence say that at least one type of abuse has occurred at or near the workplace in the form of harassing emails, calls and texts, or stalking and physical violence. Many reported that the violence made them late or miss work, often in the form of unpaid leave, and some survivors also reported actually losing their job.
The full results of the study are available at http://www.learningtoendabuse.ca/our-work/our-projects-resources/workplace_resources/index.html
It is important for survivors of domestic violence to know that their employment and financial security will not be affected while they seek the help they and their family need.
The majority of provinces all provide paid leave and the Canada Labour Code provides for five days of paid leave in addition to a period of unpaid leave. BC has a progressive government that is responsive to workers’ needs and must lead by example on this issue.
The Public Service Alliance recommends that
1. the provincial government provide at least 10 days paid leave for workers experiencing domestic and sexual violence;
2. that the legislation be flexible in order that this leave be easily accessible and supportive of workers’ needs; and
3. that workers accessing this paid leave should not have to provide forms of proof that create additional barriers.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this important process.