Northwest Territories enhances employment standards

Includes new family violence, family caregiver leaves

Northwest Territories enhances employment standards
The Northwest Territories is amending its employment standards legislation.

The Northwest Territories is introducing amendments to its employment standards that include new and enhanced types of leaves — such as a family violence leave — that will be effective as of Jan. 1, 2020.

The family violence leave adds up to five days of paid and five days of unpaid leaves per year for persons experiencing domestic violence. An additional option of up to 15 unpaid weeks in a 52-week period will also be available with prior written notice, to allow victims to seek medical attention, attend counselling or legal appointments or obtain victim services.

In November, Manitoba introduced an interpersonal violence leave to its employment standards.

The Northwest Territories also has a new family caregiver leave of up 17 weeks of unpaid time off to provide care or support for an adult family member who is critically ill or injured, and up to 37 weeks for a child family member. Additional provisions to protect youth and domestic workers, and provide leave for victims of family violence, have also been included.

“By introducing and strengthening types of leave, the government of the Northwest Territories is reinforcing worker protection, making it easier for Northern residents to take time off work to care for themselves and their families,” says R.J. Simpson, minister of education, culture and employment.

Other amendments are meant to align with the federal government’s recent amendments to the employment insurance (EI) program and the Canada Labour Code.

For one, compassionate care leave will be extended up to 27 weeks of unpaid leave each year, up from eight weeks. This will allow workers time to provide end-of-life care for a family member who is gravely ill or at risk of death, says the government.

Parental leave will be extended to 61 weeks of from 37 weeks, and must be taken immediately following pregnancy leave. In November, Saskatchewan increased its parental leave by eight weeks.

Two-parent families, including adoptive parents, will also be able to access an additional eight weeks of unpaid leave for the second parent.

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