Statutory Holidays in BC for 2017: What small business owners need to know

statutory holidays bc 2017With the start of the New Year, this is a common time for small business owners to plan out their schedule for the upcoming year, and inevitably, the question arises as to the impact of statutory holidays in BC. Let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions we receive about statutory holidays.

What are the statutory holidays in BC?

There are ten (10) statutory holidays in British Columbia. They are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • B.C. Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Christmas Day

What about Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Boxing Day?

Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Boxing Day are NOT statutory holidays in BC. Some employers provide some or all of these as paid days off, but it is not mandatory.

Who is eligible for statutory holiday pay?

Employees are eligible for the statutory holiday if they have been:

  • Employed for 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday; and
  • Have worked or earned wages on 15 of the 30 days immediately before the statutory holiday.

If employees have been working under an averaging agreement or a variance at any time in the 30 days before the holiday, they do not have to meet the 15-day requirement. “Managers” are also excluded from statutory holiday pay requirements.

When do the statutory holidays in British Columbia fall in 2017?

  • New Year’s Day – Sunday, January 1
  • Family Day – Monday, Feb 13 (Second Monday of February)
  • Good Friday – Friday, April 14
  • Victoria Day – Monday, May 22 (Monday before May 25)
  • Canada Day – Saturday, July 1
  • B.C. Day – Monday, August 7 (First Monday of August)
  • Labour Day – Monday, September 4 (First Monday of September)
  • Thanksgiving Day – Monday, October 9 (Second Monday of October)
  • Remembrance Day – Saturday, November 11
  • Christmas Day – Monday, December 25

What do I need to pay my employee when a statutory holiday falls on a regular workday, and the employee doesn’t work?

The employee is paid an “average day’s pay”.

How do I calculate an average day’s pay?

To calculate an average day’s pay:

  • Divide “regular wages” earned in the 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday by the number of days worked in within the 30 calendar days.
  • Vacation days taken during this period count as days worked.
  • “Regular wages” includes wages, commissions, statutory holiday pay and annual vacation pay, but does not include overtime pay.

What do I need to pay my employee when a statutory holiday falls on an unscheduled work day, and the employee works?

The employee is paid time and a half (1.5x) their regular rate for the first 12 hours of work, and double time (2x) their regular rate for any hours worked after 12 hours, PLUS an average day’s pay.

What do I need to pay my employee when a statutory holiday falls on a scheduled day off, and the employee does not work?

The employee is paid an average day’s pay.

What do I do when a statutory holiday falls on a weekend and we’re open Monday to Friday?

It’s a common occurrence for a statutory holiday to fall on a weekend. In 2017, New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday, and both Canada Day and Remembrance Day will fall on a Saturday.

For companies that are open Monday to Friday, an employer has 2 options:

  1. Recognize the holiday on the weekend and pay the employees for an additional day that week (i.e. employees work Monday to Friday and are paid an additional day’s pay for the weekend statutory holiday); or,
  2. Substitute an alternate work day for the statutory holiday (i.e. employees work 4 days that week and receive an additional day’s pay for a substitute day off).

Technically, employer agreement and a democratic vote by a majority of employees (more than 50% of affected employees) are required to substitute another day off for a statutory holiday.

In practice, we’ve rarely heard of any companies actually holding a vote. While perhaps a technical contravention of the Employment Standards Act, it’s certainly a more common practice to substitute the statutory holiday to the following Monday and to advise staff accordingly. So for 2017, New Year’s Day was typically observed on Monday, January 2, and Canada Day and Remembrance Day will be observed on the Monday, July 3 and November 13 respectively.

For Canada Day, specifically, if it falls on a Sunday, it automatically moves to Monday, July 2 as the replacement day.

The economics of whether option 1 above makes sense by paying workers for 6 days in the week will vary from company to company. Note however, that it’s likely more generally expected to substitute a weekend statutory holiday on the Monday. You will have to communicate well to your employees in order to avoid your brand taking a hit if employees are expecting a day off and are asked to work their normal workweek instead.

When it comes to the statutory holidays in BC, it’s important to know the facts. For more information, please check out the Government of BC’s Statutory Holidays in British Columbia Factsheet.

If you have questions about how to apply the statutory holidays in BC in your Vancouver-based small business, please contact the Employment Standards Branch or Clear HR Consulting.

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