Last year’s announcement by Premier Christy Clark of a new statutory holiday was to the delight of many employees across the province.  The inaugural Family Day on February 11, 2013, brings the total to ten statutory holidays in British Columbia, sharing the honours with Saskatchewan for the most number of statutory holidays in the country.

For many people, Family Day will be another welcomed holiday to spend time with family and friends. However, it is important to consider what your legal rights are as an employee with respect to statutory holidays, particularly if you find yourself working on these days. Here in British Columbia, statutory holiday pay is governed by provincial legislation, The Employment Standards Act (the ESA).

Who is Eligible

In order to qualify for statutory holiday pay under the ESA, section 44 stipulates that employees must have:

– worked or earned wages for 15 of the 30 preceding calendar days before the statutory holiday; or
– worked under an averaging agreement in place within the previous 30 calendar days.

While a majority of employees qualify for statutory holidays, certain classes of workers do not.
Some occupations like agricultural workers, fishermen and those in the technology field, such as computer programmers and analysts are exempt under this portion of the ESA and do not qualify for holiday pay.

Similarly, non-unionized workers or employees working under collective agreements are not entitled to holiday pay under the ESA and must to look to their respective agreements for guidance on statutory holiday policies.

Part-time Employees

Part-time employees, such as those in the service industry, may also be entitled to statutory holiday pay depending on the number of days worked prior to the holiday. Under the ESA, part-time employees who have worked 15 out of the preceding 30 calendar days are entitled to a paid day off. Pay for part-time employees is calculated by the number of hours worked prior to the statutory holiday divided by the number of days worked.

Holiday Pay

For a majority of employees in the province, statutory holidays are simply paid days off while still entitling them to receive pay at least equal to an average days’ work. On the other hand, those employees who qualify but are required to work on a statutory holiday, section 46 of the ESA stipulates that an employee is to be paid:

– 1 ½ times their regular wage for their time worked up to 12 hours;
– double their regular wage for any time worked over the 12 hour period; and
– an average day’s pay.

Substituting Another Day for a Statutory Holiday

An often-overlooked provision in the ESA is Section 48, which states that employers and employees may agree to substitute a statutory holiday for another date more favourable or accommodating to either party.  This is often advantageous for those in the service industry whose business typically sees a substantial increase in customers on statutory holidays.

The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.

By , On , In Employment Law