Monday, February 20th marks the third anniversary of our newest statutory holiday - Heritage Day. This year the province is honouring Mi'kmaq Heritage. Being a relatively new holiday, some employers and employees are unsure of their rights and obligations with respect to who is entitled to a paid day off and for those who work, who is entitled to overtime pay. This topic comes up every summer as new employees enter the service industry. I wrote on the topic then and I thought today was a perfect day to revisit the messages from that post:
Everyone understands the concept of overtime – working more than the standard 40 hours a week, or is it 35 hours, or does it depend on the job? The NS Labour Standards Code outlines the rules that pertain to overtime and holiday wages for most hourly employees.
The general rule, for those employees who are not excluded (Construction workers, transport drivers, domestic childcare providers to name a few), is that you are entitled to receive 1 ½ times your regular wage after you have worked 48 hours in a week. An employer can not contract out of the rules set out in the Code because the Code exists to protect employees and it is illegal for an employer to not follow the rules set out in it.
To qualify for a paid day off for a statutory holiday the employee must have been eligible for pay (worked, paid sick day or attended paid training) for 15 of the 30 days prior to the holiday. They must also work both their last scheduled shift prior to the holiday and the first one after the holiday. The employee does not have to work the day before or after the holiday if that is not their normally scheduled day. The amount of pay should equal the average daily wage earned by the employee for the 30 days prior to the holiday.
If an employee works on a statutory holiday and qualifies for a paid day off, as described above, then the employee is entitled to both the regular days pay, plus 1 ½ times their regular wages for the hours actually worked on the holiday.
Many employers either don’t know or blatantly ignore these rules. However, it is illegal for an employer to terminate or in any other way discriminate against an employee who insists on being paid as they are entitled to under the Code.
If you’re unsure of your rights, you can check out this excellent guide to the Code. If you have further questions you can contact Labour Standards or we are always happy to help. We welcome you to schedule a consult for us to discuss your specific situation..