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Harry Bains arrives at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 26, 2017.

The Canadian Press

The British Columbia government is moving to upgrade employment legislation covering five specific work absences ranging from pregnancy leave to time off for parents of a missing or deceased child.

New Democrat Labour Minister Harry Bains has introduced the changes to the Employment Standards Act in the legislature.

A news release from the Labour Ministry says the amendments support workers by extending compassion to families facing tragic circumstances.

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The changes include an option for longer leave for mothers before the birth of their child, extended, unpaid parental leave for new parents, and up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave for parents dealing with a crime-related disappearance of a child.

Parents grieving the death of a child could receive up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave without concern about job loss, while compassionate care leave will more than triple from eight to 27 weeks for employees caring for a terminally ill family member.

If the changes are approved, the ministry says B.C.’s employment standards for the specific work absences will be at least as good, if not better, than those offered by other provinces and territories.

“(The amendments) will not erase the pain experienced during a personal or family crisis, but can help ease the worry and stress over job security,” Mr. Bains says in the release.

Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, says she is proud the New Democrat government recognizes no one should have to fear for their job while caring for a loved one.

The Ministry of Labour says it is looking to make broader amendments to the Employment Standards Act, considering recommendations from the B.C. Law Institute’s ongoing review of the act and from organizations like the B.C. Employment Standards Coalition.

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