Legislative Compliance

Ontario’s Proposed Domestic Violence Leave: A First Step Forward

October 18, 2017

Imagine you come to work one morning and receive a voicemail from a distraught employee: they are the victim of an act of domestic violence. Suppose further that your company does not offer sick leave, or that the employee used up what they had the last time this happened. Even so, they need time to find a place to stay—maybe call the police and a lawyer—and they need time to process what happened. How would you support this employee?

You may presume that because you don’t hear about domestic violence often, you likely won’t be faced with such a situation as a manager or HR professional, but domestic violence is altogether far too common (a 2015 Canadian Labour Congress survey indicated that one third of respondents had experienced domestic violence), and the societal effects of it are far-reaching.

However, there is good news on the horizon for employees who are victims of domestic violence in Ontario. Although much of the public discussion of Bill 148 has focused on the increase to the minimum wage, when the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (“Bill 148”) is enacted in the near future and the amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 are implemented, employees will be able to take an unpaid leave to deal with the aftermath of domestic or sexual violence, or to prevent these from occurring. This is a dramatic step forward in alleviating the societal impact of domestic violence by providing its victims with government-mandated time away from work to deal with its ramifications. Download our FREE Domestic Violence Leave Guide to learn what these provisions will mean for employers if the bill is passed.

About Geoffrey Lowe

Geoffrey Lowe is an Associate Lawyer at MacDonald & Associates, a boutique employment law firm in Toronto specializing in Canadian Employment Law for both employers and employees. He is a dedicated advocate for his clients’ interests and has appeared before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Ontario Small Claims Court. Geoffrey is a graduate of Western Law and was called to the Ontario bar in 2016. Before attending law school, he worked in various capacities in human resources, and obtained his post-graduate diploma in Human Resources Management from George Brown College. He is also an alumni of the Research and Product Development Department at HRdownloads.


Kaila v Bluewater Health, 2014 CanLII 19532 (ON HPARB)A.A. v B.B. Ltd., 2015 CanLII 53737 (ON LRB)Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

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