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Health and Safety : 5 Facts About Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave as a Workplace Responsibility

In effect, provincially-regulated employers in Ontario must accommodate employees who request time off for reasons involving domestic or sexual violence. This is covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) under the definition for domestic or sexual violence leave. As an employer, you might be wondering how domestic or sexual violence relates to the workplace. It does so by following the victim from home to work, whether that be emotionally or physically. When your employees experience domestic violence at home, you’ll likely see a decrease in job performance, attendance, engagement, and morale. The purpose of providing domestic or sexual violence leave is to show support for employees by addressing the situation with sensitivity and confidentiality.

5 Facts About Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave

As of January 1, 2018, domestic and sexual violence leave is part of the minimum employment standards in Ontario. If you’re an employer, here are five facts you should know.

1. Definition Domestic or sexual violence leave is a job-protected leave of absence for employees who experience or feel threatened by such. This applies to both employees and employee’s children. The term “child” refers to those under legal guardianship that are under the age of 18-years-old.

2. Eligibility If your employee has worked for your company for at least 13 consecutive weeks, they have the right to take domestic or sexual violence leave. An employee who has committed domestic or sexual violence does not have the right to take this leave.

3. Reasons for the leave Where domestic or sexual violence occurs, your employee has the right to:

  • Take time off for medical attention;
  • Seek psychological or other professional counselling;
  • Access victim services;
  • Move temporary or permanently; or
  • Get legal or law enforcement assistance.

4. Length of the leave Domestic or sexual violence leave provides up to 10 individual days of time off and up to 15 weeks of protected time off, in a calendar year.

5. Pay for the leave The first five days of leave taken in a calendar year are paid, and the remaining time off is unpaid.

How to Approach Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave as an Employer

In addition to providing a job-protected leave of absence, as an employer there are a number of things you can do to make sure your employees feel supported, including:

  • Create a policy to address the issue of domestic violence
  • Provide your employee with flexibility to deal with the issue
  • Establish employee privacy and confidentiality

If you’re in a situation where your employee is asking for domestic or sexual violence leave, and you’re unsure about your responsibilities as an employer, ask a professional for advice.

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