Alberta employer introduces domestic violence leave

The healthcare provider admits it was surprised when a union tabled the proposal but says it’s the right thing to do for employees.

Alberta employer introduces domestic violence leave
The COO of an Alberta healthcare provider has admitted he was surprised by the proposal to introduce domestic violence leave but says it’s the right thing to do for his workforce.

“We thought it was a reasonable thing to do,'' Blair Halliday, of Qualicare Health Services, told the Canadian Press. “It is for the well-being of our staff.”

The United Steelworkers negotiated the domestic violence leave for members who work at Rivercrest Care Centre in Fort Saskatchewan – it gives victims the right to take paid leave for legal, medical and counselling appointments without fear of reprisal.

A 2014 national study by the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children found that 82 per cent of respondents who had experienced domestic violence said it hurt their job performance.

Many reported that the violence made them late or miss work (38 per cent) and some reported actually losing their job (8.5 per cent).

“The stigma attached to domestic violence is bad enough without having to go to your employer hat in hand begging for time off,” said Ray White, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1-207.

“We have it on three other contract tables right now and, as they become available, we will be putting the proposal forward at every place we bargain,” he told the Canadian Press.

While the union has been praised for its efforts in helping victims of domestic violence, White says provincial governments should also be stepping in.

In June 2016, Manitoba became the first province to pass legislation for five days of paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, guaranteeing job security while they take time off – whether that’s to seek medical attention, contact police, or find safe accommodation.

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