Domestic and sexual violence leave is now a job protected leave of absence in the workplace. Here are some things that employers can do to support employees who are victims of domestic and sexual violence:
Checklist for Employers:
1. The employee should have access to resources such as helplines, trauma centers, counsellors, legal help and medical assistance. Put together a list of resources and support the employee in accessing help.
2. Ensure the employee has access to somewhere safe to stay and has alerted close friends and family members who may assist.
3. Ensure the office is safe. Access to the office should be restricted to employees. If the washroom is shared with other offices on the same floor, access to it should also be restricted to individuals who have a key or know the door passcode.
4. Be vigilant in protecting the privacy of the employee. The employee’s home phone number/cell number should not be listed on the employer’s website and should never be given out to individuals calling the office. It is not uncommon for domestic abusers to attempt to access their victim through his or her place of employment.
5. Human Resources staff should be trained in how to support victims of domestic and sexual violence. Consider inviting someone with expertise in the field to attend your office and conduct a training seminar to management.
6. Ensure that all employees know about their right to a leave of absence in the event of sexual or domestic abuse – this should be included in the company employee policy.
7. Have clear policies on what evidence, if any, you require from employees taking this leave. In addition, have clear policies on what, if any, notice you require.
Checklist for Employees:
1. Understand your right to a domestic or sexual violence leave, the eligibility criteria and the notice requirements. These can be found here.
2. Seek medical assistance and trauma support and ensure this is documented.
3. If you intend on taking leave, give your employer notice and ensure it is documented in writing.
4. Understand your employer’s written policy for taking a leave of absence and ensure you have a copy.
By: Kathryn Marshall
Author - Extraordinary Damages in Canadian Employment Law