Answers to common questions related to statutory holidays in BC

2022 is fast approaching and while most employers know when statutory holidays occur, there can be some confusion around what constitutes a holiday, when employees are eligible, and how much to pay them. In this post, we hope to shed some light on these common questions.

What and when are the statutory holidays in BC?

Officially recognized statutory holidays for provincially regulated employers under the Employment Standards Act in BC (ESA BC) include the following:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1*
  • Family Day – February 21
  • Good Friday – April 15
  • Victoria Day – May 23
  • Canada Day – July 1
  • BC Day – August 1
  • Labour Day – September 5
  • Thanksgiving – October 10
  • Remembrance Day – November 11
  • Christmas – December 25*

*For organizations with a standard Monday to Friday workweek, New Year’s Day and Christmas are typically recognized on the following Monday.

While many provincially regulated organizations choose to recognize Easter Monday (April 18th in 2022), National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th), and/or Boxing Day (December 26th), these are not statutory holidays in BC.

When and how do employees qualify to be paid for statutory holidays?

While many employers choose to pay for statutory holidays right away, under the ESA BC, employees are eligible for holiday pay if they’ve been employed for 30 calendar days and have worked/earned wages (including vacation) on 15 of the 30 days prior to the holiday. So long as they’re eligible, employees are entitled to be paid for statutory holidays, whether they work or have the day off, even if it’s not a usual workday. They do not have to work the day before and the day after to qualify for the holiday.

How much do employees get paid for statutory holidays?

While eligible salaried employees will typically just be paid as usual, for newer employees, those who’ve been on an unpaid leave, and/or hourly-paid employees, the formula is as follows: Total wages within the 30 calendar days prior to the stat (including holidays/weekends) divided by the number of days the employee worked within that time = average days’ pay. The outcome of the average days’ pay is what you would pay the employee.

What if an employee works on a statutory holiday?

If an employee works on a statutory holiday, if they don’t qualify as outlined above, pay them their regular pay. If they do qualify, pay them 1.5 times their regular rate/salary for all the hours worked on the holiday (double time for anything over 12 hours). They are also entitled to an average days’ pay (calculated using the above formula), or another day off in lieu. Whether or not they get an average days’ pay or a day off in lieu is the employee’s choice.

Can you substitute a different day for a statutory holiday?

You can agree, in writing, with a specific employee to swap out the regular statutory holiday for another day, so long as the substituted day is also treated like the holiday. In other words, the same rules apply for eligibility, payment, etc. To substitute a day for all/several of your employees (e.g., choosing to recognize a holiday that falls in the middle of the week, like Canada Day, on the Monday or Friday), the majority (at least 51%) of the impacted employees must agree to the change.

How are statutory holidays managed across multiple provinces?

Whenever possible, we recommend that employers use the most generous province as the benchmark. It also makes sense to observe the holidays within the province where your headquarters are located. For example, Alberta doesn’t officially observe a civic holiday in August (Heritage Day). If your headquarters are in BC and you have employees in Alberta, it makes sense to observe the day, given it falls at the same time as BC Day. This said, unless you officially substitute a day, in writing, as outlined above, you must observe the respective statutory holidays in each province. Boxing Day, for example, isn’t officially observed in BC, but it is within Ontario.

Get in touch with us if you have questions related to statutory holidays in Canada.