FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has taken the next step to provide workplace leave provisions for individuals who experience domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence.

New proposed regulations under the Employment Standards Act, provide leave of up to 10 days that could be used intermittently or continuously, and up to 16 weeks that could be used in one continuous period, of which the first five days would be paid.

“Advancing women’s equality is important for economic growth and the quality of life of our families,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Domestic intimate partner and sexual violence are directed primarily towards women. Ending this type of violence and better supporting those affected by it is an important part of advancing women’s equality.”

The government consulted with 120 stakeholders before writing the draft regulations, which have been posted for public review for 14 days. The public has until July 13 to visit the Public Review of Draft Regulations website to submit feedback.

“As a means of supporting employees subject to domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence, these measures will allow for persons to deal with safety concerns, seek medical attention, obtain support services, relocate temporarily or permanently, and seek legal or law enforcement assistance,” said Gallant. “We want to thank representatives of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre and Unifor Atlantic Canada for collaboration on this important file.”

On Feb. 2, the provincial government introduced An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act that, among other things, introduced leave for persons subject to domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence. The act received Royal Assent on March 16. The provisions related to domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence leave will come into force once the supporting regulation is completed. All other provisions in the act came into force upon Royal Assent.

“Today the New Brunswick government has played a very important leadership role with respect to standing up for victims of domestic and sexual violence,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic regional director. “This has set the standard for Atlantic Canada, and will make a difference in the lives of women and children in the province.”

The Employment Standards Act provides for minimum standards in the areas of employment such as minimum wage, overtime pay, weekly rest periods, paid public holidays and various leaves, such as maternity, child care, sick, bereavement and compassionate care. Employers and employees may agree to terms and conditions that exceed those minimums.

Modernizing employment legislation aims to ensure that the province keeps pace with best practices and legislative developments across the country, and adapts to shifting labour force demographics, new work arrangements and the changing needs of employers and employees.

Currently, five provinces provide leave for person experiencing domestic violence – Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

The provincial government proclaimed the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Act on May 1, 2018. Under the act, victims of intimate partner violence can apply for an emergency intervention order to obtain short-term remedies to respond to their circumstances. The act is intended to work parallel to civil and criminal processes. It provides options to victims in addition to those available under the Criminal Code and existing civil legislation such as the Family Services Act or Marital Property Act.