The N.B. government’s January 22 announcement to modernize employment standards to include domestic violence leave is an important step to protect workers says Unifor.
“When a worker is faced with domestic violence, they need to be able to take paid time off to seek help, escape, find a new home, get themselves and their children to safety without fear of losing their job,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director.
Unifor has been leading the way the bargaining table on this issue and has negotiated paid domestic violence leave in several collective agreements, most recently for Bell Aliant workers in Atlantic Canada. The union has also negotiated 350 women’s advocates in workplaces across the country.
Changes to the N.B. Employment Standards Act will soon allow workers experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence to take protected leave.
Unifor has been lobbying for paid domestic violence leave across Canada, and New Brunswick is the fifth province to agree after Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Intimate partner violence is being added as a designated leave under the Employment Standards Act, but the province has not said whether those days will be paid.
“This leave must be paid. Financial independence is critical in the prevention of domestic violence,” said Payne who sits on a joint labour - government working group in New Brunswick where this issue was discussed as a priority.
Unifor will be part of the province’s consultations with stakeholders and will be organizing to ensure that workers, in particular women will have their voices heard.