SK Employers Soon Required to Provide Paid Leave for Victims of Interpersonal Violence

Authors: Amy Gibson and Julie Labach, Student-at-law

On Monday, May 13, 2019, the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly passed all stages of Bill No. 172, an act to amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act, respecting the provision of paid interpersonal violence and sexual violence leave. The amendments will come into effect upon Royal Assent, which is expected to occur later this month.

The amendments will allow workers to take five employer-paid days and five unpaid days of interpersonal violence leave in a period of 52 weeks. This is in addition to any leave or benefits already provided by the employer. To be eligible, an employee must have worked for an employer for a minimum of 13 weeks.

The leave will be available to employees who are themselves victims of interpersonal violence or are parents or caregivers of a victim. The employee may choose to take the leave intermittently or in one continuous period, if a victim is subjected to interpersonal violence by:

  • A person who has been or who is in a family relationship, spousal relationship, intimate relationship or dating relationship with the employee, regardless of whether they have lived together at any time;
  • A person who is the parent of one or more children with the employee, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time;
  • A person who is in an ongoing caregiving relationship with the employee, regardless of whether they have lived together at any time; or
  • Any other person prescribed in the regulations.

“Interpersonal violence” is defined to mean any intentional or reckless act or omission that causes bodily harm or damage to property, any act or threatened act that causes a reasonable fear of bodily harm or damage to property, forced confinement, sexual abuse, harassment or deprivation of necessities.

Employees may take the leave in order to seek medical attention, obtain services from a victim services organization, obtain psychological or other professional counselling, relocate temporarily or permanently, seek legal or law enforcement assistance, or for any other prescribed purpose.

Employers may require that an employee provide written evidence issued by a social worker, psychologist, medical practitioner, nurse, police officer or person otherwise employed by a shelter/victim support organization to verify the circumstances of the leave.

Employers must maintain confidentiality respecting all matters in relation to the employee’s leave. Information may not be disclosed to any person except employees or agents of the employer who require the information to carry out their duties, or with the consent of the employee to whom the leave relates.

Qualifying employees are entitled to payment per day of the leave (for up to five days) at a rate equal to:

  • the wage the employee would have been paid had they worked regular hours on the first day of the leave; or
  • 5% of the employee’s total wages, not including overtime, in the four weeks preceding the first day of the leave if:
    • the number of hours worked by the employee in a normal workday varies from day to day; or
    • the employee’s wage for regular hours of work varies from day to day.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act currently provides employees with 10 unpaid days of interpersonal violence leave in a period of 52 weeks.

Our team of labour and employment lawyers can answer questions and help your organization adapt to the upcoming amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.