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BC government proposes paid leave for victims of domestic and sexual violence

On March 3, 2020, the British Columbia government introduced a bill that would require employers to provide paid leaves of absence to domestic or sexual violence victims. If passed, Bill 5 will require employers to provide victims with at least five paid days off each year to seek assistance and deal with the consequences of domestic or sexual violence.

The new bill is a continuation of amendments that were made to the Employment Standards Act in 2019. One of those previous changes, now in force, is the requirement that employers must now provide unpaid leaves of absence to victims of domestic and sexual violence. This applies to victims of violence that has been perpetrated “by an intimate partner or by a family member.” This also applies to victims of sexual violence, regardless of the victim’s relationship to the assailant.

The proposed new amendments would go further, by requiring that the first five days of leave be paid days off. Employees would still be permitted additional unpaid leave once the paid leave runs out.

The bill is currently in first reading, meaning that it has not become law at this time.