New and enhanced employment leave provisions introduced by GNWT

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The GNWT is introducing amendments to the NWT Employment Standards Act and Regulations that provide new and enhanced types of employment leave and will be effective as of January 1st, 2020.

These Amendments will let workers take advantage of the federal leave allowances and associated benefits while providing recognized and consistent guidelines for employers to better support their employees during important life events.

R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment states that by introducing and strengthening types of leave, the GNWT is reinforcing worker protection, making it easier for Northern residents to take time off work to care for themselves and their families.

“We know many employers are already supporting and encouraging their employees during important life events. It is our intention that these new and enhanced types of leave will provide recognized and consistent guidelines for employers to achieve their goals as they invest in their employees and the NWT.”

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The Department of Education, Culture and Employment undertook preliminary public engagement through stakeholder interviews and an online survey for interested members of the public to provide their input.

Parental Leave will extend from 37 weeks of unpaid leave up to 61 weeks, taken immediately following pregnancy leave. Two-parent families, including adoptive parents, will also be able to access an additional 8 weeks of unpaid leave for the second parent.

Compassionate Care Leave will extend from 8 to 27 weeks of unpaid leave each year to allow workers time to provide end-of-life care for a family member who is gravely ill or at risk of death.

A new Family Caregiver Leave will provide up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible persons 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.

A new Family Violence Leave will provide five days of paid and five days of unpaid annual leave 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. This leave could be taken to seek medical attention, attend counselling or legal appointments, obtain victim services, and for a variety of other purposes.

The Employment Standards Act applies to most employees and employers that perform work in the NWT and sets out the minimum employment standards for the NWT. It does not apply to federal government employees, territorial government employees, or those workers in federally regulated industries such as airlines, banks, and most telecommunications operations.

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