Paid time off for family violence victims among new leave regulations in NWT

R.J. Simpson is the minister of Education, Culture and Employment. (File photo/CKLB)

Updated December 16 with additional details on Compassionate Care leave and Family Caregiver leave.

Workers in the NWT will benefit from changes to leave regulations in the new year.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has amended the Employment Standards Act with new and extended leave programs; those changes will kick in on January 1, 2020.

Parental leave will be extended from 37 to 61 unpaid weeks. Two-parent families can apply for an additional eight weeks for the second parent.

Employees that need to provide end-of-life care for a family member that is “gravely ill or at risk of death” will now have up to 27 weeks of unpaid leave to do so.

The Family Caregiver Leave is one of two new leave programs. It will provide 17 weeks for people caring for an adult family member that is “critically ill or injured”, and 37 weeks if caring for a child.

You’re not alone if you think the two programs above sound similar. CKLB has asked the department of education, culture and employment (ECE) how employers will determine which leave will be appropriate.

“Compassionate care leave is for employees to provide end-of-life care to family. The family member must be suffering from a serious medical condition with a ‘significant risk of death’ within 26 weeks of the request for leave,” said ECE communication manager Jacqueline McKinnon in an email. “Family caregiver leave is to care for ‘critically ill’ or injured family members, but is not end-of-life care.”

Finally, the second new leave program is for victims of family violence, who can take five days of paid leave and five days of unpaid leave. There is also the possibility of taking an additional 15 weeks of unpaid leave with written notice. The government says the time off is for victims to get medical help, attend counselling or legal appointments, and other similar services.

ECE Minister R.J. Simpson, said in a statement, “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.”

It is worth noting the new regulations do not apply to federal or territorial government employees, or federally-regulated industries like airlines and banks.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.