The Manitoba Employment Standards Code was recently
amended to give victims of domestic violence job-protected leave
from work to deal with issues arising from their abuse. The
legislation provides that such individuals are eligible for two
categories of annual leave: (i) 10 days, which may be taken
intermittently or continuously, 5 of which are to be paid by the
employer and (ii) up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave, which can only be
taken continuously. To be eligible for this leave the employee must
have been employed for at least 90 days and must be a victim of
domestic abuse within the meaning of the Manitoba Domestic
Violence and Stalking Act, which defines the concept as
an intentional, reckless or
threatened act or omission that causes bodily harm or property
an intentional, reckless or
threatened act or omission that causes a reasonable fear of bodily
harm or property damage;
conduct that reasonably, in all
circumstances, constitutes psychological or emotional abuse;
Such acts must be perpetrated by someone in a familial or
domestic relationship with the victim to be classified as domestic
violence. Manitoba employees who are experiencing domestic violence
can use the leave to see medical attention for themselves or their
children for an injury caused by the domestic violence, to obtain
services from a victim services organization, to obtain
psychological or other professional counselling, to temporarily or
permanently relocate or to seek legal or law enforcement
assistance, including preparing for or participating in any civil
or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from the
domestic violence. Manitoba employers are entitled to
"reasonable verification" of the necessity of the leave.
There is no guidance in the legislation as to what might constitute
reasonable verification but at a minimum, employers would be
entitled to request medical notes verifying that their employee or
his or her children received treatment and would also be entitled
to proof of Court proceedings related to the domestic violence. It
will likely be more difficult to obtain proof that the employee is
searching for new housing or accessing social services related to
the domestic violence.
Ontario has prepared similar legislation, which received a
second reading earlier this week. If passed, the Ontario
legislation would provide victims of domestic violence with 10 days
of annual paid leave and an unspecified period of unpaid leave. The
legislation would also require employers to provide employees who
are threatened with domestic violence with an alternative place of
work or reduced hours of work. The Ontario Bill has yet to become
law and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice
Policy for further study. We will monitor the Bill's progress
through the legislature and provide updates on its progress.
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