By Geoff Mason.
Earlier this month, we continued my 5-part blog series on summer employment with a post describing the special employment rules that apply to certain summer-centric industries. In today’s post (Part 4), I review the rules that apply to statutory holiday pay and vacation entitlements.
Of the 10 statutory holidays in British Columbia, four of them fall between May and September. The resulting long weekends, combined with BC’s warm weather, make the summer months an ideal time to take vacation. As such, it is important for employers and employees in a summer employment relationship to be aware of the Employment Standards rules surrounding stat holidays and vacation.
Statutory Holiday Pay
Who is eligible?
Under the BC Employment Standards Act (the ESA), an employee is eligible for “stat” holiday pay if they have been employed by the employer for at least 30 calendar days before the holiday. The employee must have also worked or earned wages for at least 15 of those days. (The 15-day requirement does not apply to employees who have worked under an averaging agreement.)
Who is excluded?
Employees who meet the above eligibility requirements are excluded from stat holiday entitlements if they fall within certain groups under the Employment Standards Regulation (Regulation). The excluded groups include:
- Silviculture workers (e.g. tree planters)
- Farm workers
- Certain commission salespersons
(Note that we have only included in the above list those groups that are of special relevance to summer employment relationships – there are various other groups of workers excluded from these rules of the ESA – and others! – under the Regulation, so make sure not to view this list as exhaustive.)
What are their entitlements?
Eligible employees who do not work on a stat holiday are entitled to receive an “average day’s pay.” An average day’s pay is calculated by dividing the total amount of wages earned in the preceding 30 days (except overtime amounts) by the number of days actually worked.
Eligible employees who do work on a stat are entitled to an average day’s pay as well as an increased rate of pay for work done on the holiday (“time-and-a-half” for the first 12 hours worked, and double-time for any work done beyond those 12 hours).
Employees can substitute another day for a stat holiday as long as the employer and a majority of the employees agree. In these circumstances, the above rules apply to the substituted day.
Annual Vacation & Vacation Pay
Who is eligible for vacation?
Under the ESA, an employee is entitled to annual vacation time after completing one year of employment.
An employee and employer may agree to provide the employee with vacation days before the employee has earned them. In these circumstances, the advanced vacation time will proportionally reduce the amount of vacation the employee becomes entitled to.
What are their entitlements?
After one completed year of employment, an employee is entitled to two weeks of annual vacation. (After five consecutive years of employment, that entitlement increases to three weeks.) An employee must take their annual vacation within 12 months after it has been earned.
Employers may schedule an employee’s vacation in accordance with their business requirements. However, an employer must ensure that an employee’s vacation is scheduled in periods of weeks (unless agreed otherwise) and that the employee takes their annual vacation within 12 months of earning it.
What about vacation pay eligibility?
After five calendar days of employment, an employee is entitled to receive 4% vacation pay. That entitlement increases to 6% after five consecutive years of employment.
The employer must pay vacation pay out to an employee either seven days before their annual vacation or on the employee’s payday if agreed to between the employer and employee (unless a collective agreement provides otherwise).
While most employers accept that stat holidays, vacations and vacation pay are a cost of doing business or even a “necessary evil”, it’s actually possible to view them in a more positive light: as a key contributor to employee well-being and therefore engagement and retention. A relaxed employee is a happy employee, and happy employees make for happy employers (who also deserve and need to take time off)!
Have questions about hiring seasonal employees? Contact us!
NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on the Kent Employment Law website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action, based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. One of our lawyers would be pleased to discuss any specific legal concerns you may have.