Insights Header image
Insights Header image
Insights Header image

Proposed Leave for British Columbia Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

April 2017 Employment and Labour Bulletin 3 minute read

Employment Standards (Domestic Violence Leave) Amendment Act, 2017 proposes amendments to the British Columbia Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) which would provide leave for BC victims of domestic or sexual violence.

Proposed Changes

If enacted, an employee who requests leave under proposed section 52.3 of the ESA will be entitled to up to 10 days of paid leave, and up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave, if the employee or the employee’s child has experienced domestic violence or sexual violence.

It is expected that “domestic violence” will be defined as (a) an act of abuse between an individual and a current or former intimate partner, between an individual and a child who resides with the individual, or between an individual and an adult who resides with the individual and who is related to the individual by blood, marriage, foster care or adoption, whether the abuse is physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, and may include an act of coercion, stalking, harassment or financial control, or (b) a threat or attempt to do an act described in (a). “Sexual violence” is expected to be defined as any conduct of a sexual nature or act targeting an individual’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression that is committed, threatened or attempted against an individual without the individual’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, sexual exploitation and sexual solicitation, and may include an act that occurs online or in the context of domestic or intimate partner relationships.

An employee will only be entitled to a leave if the employee uses the leave for one or more of the following purposes:

  • to seek medical attention for the employee or the employee’s child in respect of a physical or psychological injury or disability caused by the violence;
  • to obtain services for the employee or the employee’s child in respect of the violence from a victim services organization, domestic violence shelter, rape crisis centre, sexual assault centre or other social services program or community agency;
  • to obtain psychological or other professional counselling for the employee or the employee’s child in respect of the violence;
  • to relocate temporarily or permanently for the purpose of making future violence against the employee or the employee’s child less likely; or
  • to seek legal or law enforcement assistance for the employee or the employee’s child, including preparing for or participating in any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding related to or resulting from the violence.

In addition to paid and unpaid leaves, the proposed amendments to the ESA require employers to accommodate (to the point of undue hardship) employees if employees require variation of their assigned work as a result of domestic violence. In determining undue hardship, cost, outside sources of funding, and health and safety requirements will be considered. Some examples of variation of work include

  • the employee needs to work at a place of work other than where the employer has assigned the employee;
  • the employee needs fewer hours of work; or
  • the employee needs to work at different times than the employer has assigned the employee.

Status of Bill M 235 – 2017

Bill M 235 – 2017 passed its first reading on March 7, 2017. However, this Bill will not progress unless it is reintroduced after the Provincial election. Although we query whether this Bill will be reintroduced, BC employers should be aware of these proposed changes to the BC ESA and may want to review their current policies, practices and procedures on domestic and sexual violence.

by Natalie Cuthill

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2017

Insights (5 Posts)View More

Featured Insight

Automotive Webinar Series | Part III: Where Rubber Meets the Road: Automotive Litigation Update

At this session, our panel of experts will provide a panoramic view of the evolution of automotive class actions across Canada, a review of best practices for managing disputes with distributors and franchisees, and
insights into litigation and disclosure obligations arising from automotive industry labour issues.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Featured Insight

Automotive Webinar Series | Part II: Looking towards the Future: Automotive Legislation Updates

Our panel of professionals will highlight important changes impacting the automotive industry in Canada’s ever-evolving regulatory landscape including updates to cross-border sales legislation, advertising obligations arising from drip pricing provisions under the Competition Act and understanding Transport Canada's lates enforcement tool: administrative monetary penalties.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Featured Insight

Nothing Casual about it: Hotel Faces Employees’ Class Action over Employment Benefit Changes

Hotel faces employees' class action over employment benefit changes.

Read More
Sep 29, 2023
Featured Insight

“Mend your speech a little, lest it may mar your fortunes”: Are Employee Defamation Cases A Fool’s Errand?

This bulletin discusses the recent decision in Williams v. Vac Developments Limited regarding gag defamation proceedings commenced by employers.

Read More
Sep 27, 2023
Featured Insight

Overholding in Commercial Leasing

The concept of overholding is often misunderstood and deserves more attention in commercial leases, given the significant consequences for landlords and tenants.

Read More
Sep 27, 2023