Domestic Violence Unpaid Leave: A Good First Step, But Can Victims Afford To Take It?

Today, the Liberal McNeil government tabled legislation, Bill No. 107, that will amend the Labour Standards Code to include the right to unpaid leave if you or your child/dependent is a victim of domestic violence. You can view the legislation here:

Although we applaud this as a first step, we think that few Nova Scotians working for minimum or close-to-minimum wage, will be able to financially take advantage of unpaid leave. They simply will not be able to afford it.

Over the last few years, NSGEU has been including leave for victims of domestic/intimate partner violence in its negotiations with employers and with its own staff. For the most part, the negotiated language is an agreement to develop a policy before the expiry of the collective agreement – a start.  Where possible, we are negotiating some combination of paid leave as well as unpaid leave in order to support the worker financially as they heal.

On March 1, the NDP introduced amendments to the Labour Standards Code that gave the victim the right to both paid and unpaid leave. The paid leave would have been provided by the employer and would have given the victim the space and financial support they need to recover. Unfortunately, government did not support this Bill.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister, Labi Kousoulis, speaking at the Bill briefing today, said consultation with stakeholders will continue and a major topic will be the issue of paid leave. The Bill is also expected to face some questions during the Law Amendments Committee hearing. We support this legislation as a first step to addressing the effects of domestic violence in our communities and workplaces and we will continue to lobby for the legislation to include paid leave.

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