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 – On the anniversary of the murder of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole 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.

Domestic Violence Backgrounder


Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell) or via e-mail [email protected].

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  • Patty Mattos
    commented 2017-01-06 09:33:56 -0700
    Our Wanda, I was reading your comment and I was very moved, I loved the blog, I love the tips and contents here. #thank you (
  • Wanda Lawrence
    commented 2016-12-06 22:22:55 -0700
    Having lived in domestic abuse until I was 44, I can accept the 5 days leave to not lose ones job but I also can see this being abused too from some women whom are unable to seriously leave the abuse whom will apply for it numerous times . Most take two to three attempts to leave before they are successful and some of us never get the strength for we are too broken and are energy is used to simply exist , where the only thing that sets us free is the abuser ending it, as was in my case . I do not feel it should fall upon an employer to pay for it though . We can not expect employers to carry the financial weight of individuals choices out side the work area . Odd employer may have the means to help out but the average employer no. This is a band aid for a growing problem.

    I lost my business when I had to go into hiding from an abusive spouse , 5 days pay when many need to actaully relocate, so as to not be found from the abuser . Better laws to protect is more important. , restraining laws are a joke, Tired of band aid solutions after the fact . Want to hep domestic violence/rapes then teach males how to respect women young up and women how to set healthy boundaries. Right now we are teaching how to be a me, me self centered society, not how to work as a team , how to respect others boundaries , how to be responsibly for our own individual actions .