Easter Weekend and Statutory Holiday Pay in B.C. and Alberta

Following the Easter long weekend, some employees may be receiving a little more cash this payday.

British Columbia and Saskatchewan have more statutory holidays than the other provinces, with 10 each.  However, we honour fewer public holidays than are observed in may other industrialized nations. Cambodia, for example, has 26 public holidays per year. India has 18 public holidays annually, and Malta and Germany have 15.

Under the Employment Standards Act, British Columbia (ESA), Good Friday is a statutory holiday. Easter Monday is not.

An employer and a majority of employees can agree to substitute another day off for a statutory holiday. The ESA and the related regulations apply to the substitute day as if it were the statutory holiday.

When an employee is given a day off on a statutory holiday, or it falls on a regular day off, an eligible employee is entitled to be paid an average day’s pay (s. 45, ESA). An average day’s pay is calculated by dividing “total wages” earned in the 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday by the number of days worked. Vacation days taken during this period count as days worked. “Total wages” includes wages, commissions, statutory holiday pay and vacation pay but does not include overtime pay.

An eligible employee who works on a statutory holiday is entitled to be paid an average day’s pay plus 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate for the first 12 hours worked and two times the regular rate for any work over 12 hours (s. 46, ESA). The legislation states how to calculate an “average day’s pay:” divide the employee’s total wages (including wages commissions and vacation pay, but excluding overtime pay) in the 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday by the number of days worked.

To be eligible for statutory holiday pay an employee must:  (a) have been employed for 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday and, (b) have worked or earned wages on 15 of the 30 days immediately before the statutory holiday.

Employees who work under an averaging agreement or variance at any time in the 30 days before the holiday do not have to meet the 15-day requirement.

An employee who is not eligible for statutory holiday pay is not entitled to be paid an average day’s pay. An ineligible employee who works on a statutory holiday may be paid as if it were a regular work day.

Certain workers are not eligible for statutory holidays and statutory holiday pay or are subject to special rules. These include managers, agriculture workers, certain commission salespersons, and high technology professionals.

The above discusses the general provisions that apply to provincially regulated employers.

For unionized workers, if their collective agreement contains any provision respecting statutory holidays, these provisions do not apply. If a collective agreement does not contain any provision respecting statutory holidays, these provisions are deemed to be incorporated in the collective agreement as part of its terms.

Where a collective agreement applies, these matters must be enforced through the grievance procedure, and not through the Employment Standards Branch.

In Alberta, as in B.C., Good Friday is a statutory holiday, but Easter Monday is not.  In Alberta, most employees are eligible for general holidays and holiday pay immediately upon employment. However, there are some exceptions.  An eligible employee who works on a statutory holiday is entitled to be paid:

(a) Average daily wages plus 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate for each hour worked that day, or

(b) Regular wages for each hour worked that day, plus a day off with pay at least equal to the employee’s average daily wage. The day off must not be later than the employee’s next annual vacation and must be on a day that would normally be a working day for the employee.

“Average daily wage” refers to an employee’s daily wage averaged over the days she or he worked in the nine weeks immediately before a statutory holiday. If an employee has not been employed by the same employer for at least nine work weeks, “average daily wage” refers to the employee’s daily wage averaged over the number of days the employee has worked for the employer.

Federal employees covered by the Canada Labour Code who work on a statutory holiday are entitled to be paid their regular daily wages plus 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate for the hours worked. Different calculations apply in some cases, including in the longshoring industry, in continuous operations and for managerial and for professional employees.

 

This is a modified version of an article that appeared in the Kelowna Daily Courier on April 26, 2019, the Kelowna Capital News on April 28, 2019 and other online publications. The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Advice from an experienced legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances.  If you would like to reach us, we may be reached at 250-764-7710 or info@inspirelaw.ca.  Check out our website, www.inspirelaw.ca.