A Penticton women’s advocate says she would like to see B.C. mandate employers offer time off to victims of domestic or sexual violence, as Ontario prepares to do just that.
“We know that women have lost jobs due to hospitalization from assaults,” said Debbie Scarborough, executive director of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.
“Due to the stalking that happens, so the abuser comes to their workplace, makes it difficult, they vandalize their vehicle so they can’t get to work on time.”
“The list goes on,” Scarborough said, adding abusive partners sabotage victims’ success so the victim needs to lean on the abuser for financial support.
“Women have the right to say ‘You can’t terminate me because I’m in an abusive situation, I’m trying my best, but you can’t further penalize me because I’m in an abusive situation,’ so I think that’s awesome,” Scarborough said.
Ontario recently promised to provide victims — who have been employed for 13 consecutive weeks time off — to take necessary steps for themselves.
According to a recent news release from the Ontario government, the legislation would mean victims can take up to 17 weeks off per calendar year without losing their job.
That time off can be used to seek medical attention, obtain victim services or counselling, relocate temporarily or permanently, or seek legal or police assistance.
Scarborough said no such provisions are available for victims in B.C., and it is up to the employer how the situation is handled.
“Some of us that are equitable employers, we would definitely never penalize a staff member that is going through that,” she said.
“We would brainstorm in order that she is successful in her plans to be self-sufficient so she can leave the abuser.”
Scarborough said she would “absolutely” like to see the same protections put in place for B.C. victims of sexual and domestic violence.
“For those employers that aren’t equitable and wouldn’t support women, I think I would love to see it here,” she said.
“So women can actually say ‘no, you can’t suspend me, you can’t fire me.’”