Friday, March 16, 2018

Recommendations for Domestic Violence Leave

With the province introducing amendments to the Employment Standards Act concerning domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence leave and currently consulting stakeholders after which regulatory changes will be made based on feedback, the New Brunswick Union (NBU) has several suggestions to be included.
1. Five days paid leave and five days unpaid leave
This would put New Brunswick in line with the current legislation in Manitoba. While the NBU would like to see all 10 days be paid leave - similar to leave available to some employees in Australia - we believe a minimum of five days paid should be part of the changes. This will ease some, not all, of the financial burden when a victim decides to take steps to change their circumstances.
The days could be used consecutively or intermittently as needed.
2.Workplace accommodations for victims
The NBU would also like to see a provision in the changes requiring employers to accommodate, up to the point of undue hardship, employees who have - or whose children have - experienced domestic or sexual violence. This may include changing an employee’s place of work and/or their hours of employment to accommodate the employee’s circumstances.
3. Defining Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence
The victims of and who commits this type of abuse can be male, female, young and old. We need to properly define this in the Act.
Who commits "domestic violence"
Domestic violence occurs when a person is subjected to an act by another person who
(a) is cohabiting or has cohabited with him or her in a spousal, conjugal or intimate relationship;
(b) has or had a family relationship with him or her, in which they have lived together;
(c) has or had a family relationship with him or her, in which they have not lived together;
(d) has or had a dating relationship with him or her, whether or not they have ever lived together; or
(e) is the other biological or adoptive parent of his or her child, regardless of their marital status or whether they have ever lived together.

Meaning of "domestic violence"
The following acts and omissions constitute domestic violence:
(a) an intentional, reckless or threatened act or omission that causes bodily harm or property damage;
(b) an intentional, reckless or threatened act or omission that causes a reasonable fear of bodily harm or property damage;
(c) conduct that reasonably, in all the circumstances, constitutes psychological or emotional abuse;
(d) forced confinement;
(e) sexual abuse.

These definitions closely align with those found in Manitoba's Domestic Violence and Stalking Act.

4. Verification
It's the position of the NBU that no verification be required in order to access the leave. Dealing with domestic/intimate partner violence is difficult enough, but asking for verification can be a form of re-victimization. Having strict requirements around verification will make this inaccessible to many individuals.

Should the provincial government feel it absolutely necessary for verification to be a requirement, the NBUwould ask that it be broad in nature with a variety of options.

The NBU firmly believes these measures need to be part of the changes to the Employment Standards Act. Combined with the current legislation it will provide much needed tools to help people break the cycle of abuse and change their lives in a positive way.