Workplace and Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan introduced new legislation Wednesday, which will allow victims of interpersonal violence to take up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave from work.
The Opposition agreed to have the legislation be moved through all the stages so it can be passed into law Thursday.
Eligibility extends to an employee, employee’s child or a person the employee is a caregiver for that is a victim of interpersonal or domestic violence. The time off can be to seek medical attention, obtain services from a victims service organization, to access psychological or other professional services, relocate, seek legal assistance, deal with law enforcement and/or attend a court appearance.
The 10 days off will not need to be taken all together. They can be spread between a few days off or even a few hours.
“We know that Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of police-reported interpersonal violence across Canada,” Morgan said.
“As government and other agencies work toward long-term solutions for this issue, survivors need immediate supports to escape dangerous situations.”
Employees will have to work their employer for a minimum of 13 weeks to be eligible for the leave. They will also be required to provide evidence of the service being received if asked. Legislation will also make it mandatory for employers to keep all personal information confidential.
This idea was first brought before the assembly by Opposition Leader Nicole Sarauer as a private member’s bill. It was combined with a provision to allow individuals fleeing domestic violence the ability to break a lease without penalty.
Morgan emphasized that this legislation is part of an ongoing process to address domestic violence in Saskatchewan.
“We recognize that interpersonal violence is a serious problem for Saskatchewan families. In addition to this legislation, we need to see a shift in attitudes about acceptable behavior and we need to develop measures to identify and prevent abusive relationships,” Morgan said.
To accomplish this, the Justice Ministry is exploring a potential domestic violence disclosure process with police and community organizations.