Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

In 2019, the B.C. Government amended the Employment Standards Act to include entitlement for employees to domestic or sexual violence leave. Initially, the Act provided only for unpaid leave for employees if they (or an eligible person, such as a child or dependent adult in the employee’s care) experienced domestic or sexual violence.

On August 14, 2020, the Act was further amended to allow a brief period of paid leave in addition to unpaid leave. Currently, employees are entitled to up to 5 days of paid leave and 5 days of additional unpaid leave to seek medical attention, counselling or other social or psychological services, or legal advice, or to seek new housing if they or an eligible person has experienced domestic violence. If necessary, an employee can take up to 15 weeks of additional unpaid leave.

Employees must request the leave, and advance notice is not required. It may be taken in days or hours, and not all allocated time need be used. The employer records the time taken, and calculates the pay owing.

Employers are entitled to ask for information to confirm the employee’s entitlement to the leave and, if asked, an employee must provide information that is “reasonable” given the circumstances. Excluded from what is reasonable is information that may jeopardize someone’s safety, security, or privacy. Employees need not provide a police report, medical report or personal or specific details in order to satisfy an employer’s request for reasonable information.

Information provided by Ryan Anderson, an employment lawyer with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit