Since May 30, 2019, the Employment Standards Act provides unpaid job-protected leave for B.C. employees facing domestic or sexual violence.

Before, workers could only take time from their job if their employer agreed to the leave.

New changes introduced on March 3, 2020 will provide up to five days of paid leave on top of the five unpaid leave provisions and 15 weeks of unpaid leave if the Bill is passed.

B.C.’s paid domestic or sexual violence leave will include the following features:

  • The leave is available if an employee, an employee’s child (under 19), or a dependent adult in the care of the employee (either a parent or former guardian) is facing domestic or sexual violence.
  • The Act will provide up to five days of paid leave, alongside five days of unpaid leave that can be taken consecutively or intermittently, and up to an extra 15 weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Employers will be required to pay an employee  for up to five days away from work per year.
  • Employees may take leave for any of the following purposes in relation to domestic or sexual violence:
    • To seek medical attention for a physical or psychological injury or disability
    • To get victim services or other social services
    • To get psychological or other professional counselling
    • To move temporarily or permanently
    • To seek legal or law enforcement help or attend a civil or criminal proceeding
  • If requested, employees must provide the employer with reasonable proof in the circumstances that the employee is entitled to the leave. The Act does not specify what type of documents would be sufficient proof in different circumstances.

Definitions

“Domestic or sexual violence” is defined in the Act as including:

  • physical abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life;
  • sexual abuse by any person;
  • attempts to commit physical abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, or sexual abuse by any person;
  • psychological or emotional abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, including:
    • intimidation, harassment, coercion or threats, including threats respecting other persons, pets or property
    • unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, financial or personal autonomy
    • stalking or following, and
    • intentional damage to property.