Ho Ho Ho: Fun Facts about Statutory Holidays in BC – The one about Boxing Day may surprise you!

Publication November 2016

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  ‘Tis also the season for employers to struggle with the intricacies of statutory holidays and related pay.  This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day Monday, and New Years’ Day the following Sunday.  Here are some points to remember about employee entitlements under the British Columbia Employment Standards Act.

Do employees automatically get Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Day off of work?  Technically, no:

  • Christmas Day and New Years’ Day are statutory holidays in British Columbia.  Boxing Day, while traditionally given as a holiday to many employees, is not a statutory holiday in this province (although it is in Ontario and for federally regulated entities);
  • there is no obligation to provide a day off in lieu of the statutory Christmas Day and New Years’ Day holiday when it falls on a weekend (i.e. employees can work on December 26 this year without consequences);
  • employers can enter into agreements with individual employees to substitute a different day for a statutory holiday;
  • employers may also come to an agreement with a majority of its employees to substitute for all employees a different day for a statutory holiday; and
  • when an employee is given the day off for a statutory holiday, or if the statutory holiday falls on a regular day off (such as with Christmas Day in 2016 and this New Years’ Day in 2017), the employee is still entitled to statutory holiday pay.

Are all employees entitled to statutory holiday pay?  Generally, yes, but with some rules:

  • all employees (part and full time) are treated the same for statutory holiday pay purposes; and
  • employees are only entitled to statutory holiday pay if they have worked or earned wages in 15 of the 30 calendar days preceding the statutory holiday unless the employees worked under an averaging agreement at any time during the 30 days preceding the holiday, in which case the employees are entitled to holiday pay even if they did not meet the 15 day threshold for that statutory holiday.

How do you calculate the pay entitlement?  It depends on whether the employee worked on the statutory holiday:

  • any employee who does not work on a statutory holiday must be paid an “average day’s pay.”  That amount is determined by dividing the amount the employee has been paid during the 30 days preceding the statutory holiday (including vacation pay but less amounts paid or payable for overtime) by the number of days the employee worked within that same 30 day period; and
  • any employee who does work on a statutory holiday must be paid 1.5 times their regular wage for time worked on the statutory holiday up to 12 hours and 2 times their regular wage for time worked on the statutory holiday over 12 hours plus one average day’s pay calculated using the formula outlined above.

Happy Holidays!  

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