Canada: New Brunswick Proposes Paid Leave for Domestic, Sexual Violence Victims

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By Peter Menyasz

Employees would be entitled to paid leave in situations where they are victims of domestic, intimate partner, or sexual violence under legislation being considered by New Brunswick's parliament, the provincial government announced Feb. 2. The leave is intended to give employees a chance to make life changes and enhance their safety. Bill 44 would also provide better access to unpaid leave for maternity, child care, or critical illness.

“Ensuring job protection for those who need to leave work to take care of themselves or a family member contributes to a healthy workforce,” Labour, Employment, and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage said in a statement. “Modernizing our employment standards legislation is essential to maintain a competitive labor market and improve the quality of life.”

After passage of the legislation, the labor department will conduct a 60-day consultation with select stakeholders on leave provisions for domestic, intimate partner, or sexual violence, Stephanie Bilodeau, the department’s communications director, said Feb. 5.

“Following the consultation period and based on the feedback received, the government will introduce regulatory amendments that will address the elements of the leave provision,” Bilodeau told Bloomberg Law in an email. “More details [are] to come in a few months.”

Other Leave

Bill 44 would also update the Employment Standards Act’s unpaid leave protections to reflect changes in the federal government’s Employment Insurance Act that took effect on Dec. 3, 2017. The changes would ease access to federal income support programs for workers who take maternity, child care, family caregiver, or critical illness leave, the provincial government said.

The changes to the federal unemployment insurance program and complementary amendments to the Canada Labour Code allow for payment of parental benefits over a longer period at a lower benefit rate, allow maternity benefits to be paid as early as the 12th week before the expected due date, create a benefit for family members to care for a critically ill adult, and allow for benefits to care for a critically ill child to be paid to family members other than parents.

The updated provisions also increase the maximum length of allowable parental leave to 63 weeks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

Full text of Bill 44 is available here, the labor minister’s statement here.

For more information on Canadian HR law and regulation, see the Canada primer.

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