Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice. She has been practicing law since 1994, with brief stints away to begin raising children. Susan has experience in many areas of law, but is most drawn to areas in which she can make a positive difference in people���s lives, including employment law. She has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 1994 and a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2015. Susan grew up in Saskatchewan. Her parents were both entrepreneurs, and her father was also a union leader who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of workers. Before moving to B.C., Susan practiced law in both Calgary and Fort McMurray, AB. Living and practicing law in Fort McMurray made a lasting impression on Susan. It was in this isolated and unique community that her interest in employment law, and Canada’s oil sands industry, took hold. In 2013, Susan moved to the Okanagan with her family, where she currently resides. photo:contributed

Kootnekoff: Easter Weekend and Statutory Holiday Pay in B.C.

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 one and a half 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.

To be eligible for statutory holiday pay an employee must:

  • (a) have been employed for 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday
  • (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.

Federal employees covered by the Canada Labour Code who work on a statutory holiday are entitled to be paid their regular daily wages plus one and a half 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.

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.

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