Alberta Federation of Labour

Alberta Federation of Labour

December 06, 2016 09:30 ET

Work should not be a barrier when escaping domestic abuse

Alberta Federation of Labour joins with labour organizations across the country to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by calling for workplace leave for people fleeing domestic violence

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Dec. 6, 2016) - On the anniversary of the murder of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, Alberta's largest labour organization is joining the Canadian Labour Congress and unions across the country in asking federal and provincial governments to follow Manitoba's lead in providing workplace leave for people who are facing violence at home.

In March, Manitoba revised their Employment Standards Code to allow people dealing with domestic abuse to take time off from work - including five paid days - to seek medical attention, find a safe place to live, attend court hearings or get other services that can be hard to access outside working hours. The AFL is joining a national call from the CLC and other labour organizations for the rest of Canada to follow Manitoba's example.

"Work should not be a barrier to someone getting themselves out of a dangerous situation at home," Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. "Legislation that provides workers the ability to help themselves is the right thing to do - it's also the smart thing to do. This is potentially a life-saving measure."

In tougher economic times, people who are facing domestic abuse can feel even more trapped by their employment situations, and less able to escape the abuse. There is no better time than now to tackle the systematic barriers that trap people in abusive situations.

"Women who are experiencing gender-based violence at home often take the abuse with them to work. It's a secret they have to hide, and a millstone around their necks even when they're away from their abuser. It's hard to be your best at work when you have something like that weighing you down," Vipond said. "When employers give workers an opportunity to get out of a bad situation, it pays off in the long run."

Paid safe time, or domestic violence leave, is well established in collective agreements in Australia and in legislation in several US jurisdictions. Ontario's legislature is currently considering a private member's bill that would grant 10 days paid leave to victims of domestic or sexual violence.

In 2017, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Alberta Federation of Labour will be taking additional steps to tackle domestic violence in the workplace, in Canada and abroad.

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