What holiday does a server in a restaurant or bar, a worker at a gas bar, or a clerk at a museum have to work — though none is entitled to holiday pay?

Normally, when I write about who gets paid and who does not on public holidays in NS, Robert Devet always publishes the article in the Nova Scotia Advocate.  Because so many working people do not know their rights, my articles on pay and holidays often get many thousands of reads.  The problem is there are only six paid public holidays in the whole year.  So it is today I really miss the late Robert Devet (whom you can read about here).  By publishing my articles in the NSAdvocate.org, Devet amplified the message that NS Labour Standards never enhance –let alone protect — workers’ rights.  The ultimate irony is Thanksgiving:  NS law is compulsory store closing but no compensation for people whose store, outlet or service is closed.

Thanksgiving Day.  It’s not a public holiday in NS – that’s right. Unless you work in a unionized workplace, you won’t get paid for the day off, if your employer is closed. 

For instance, schools, universities, libraries, liquor stores, hospital clinics and offices, government offices, and credit unions must be closed.  But if there is a union, it would have negotiated the day off for you with pay. 

outside a supermarket…(credit: judy haiven)

However, for people who work at hardware stores, larger supermarkets, big drug stores, retail shops in malls and more – Thanksgiving is a Retail Closing Day . That means the business has to be closed. If you work at one of the businesses listed here you won’t be paid for the day off.  If you work in a dental office, a real estate firm, a dry cleaner, flower shop, or an optometrists’ you likely won’t be paid for Thanksgiving day.  The store or facility must be closed, but as you are not likely unionized you won’t get paid.   A day off work with no pay.

It’s yet another example of Nova Scotia’s punishing holidays, which I’ve written about before.  You get the day off – without pay.  The week from Oct. 11-15 your pay packet will be lighter by 20%. 

The Punishment Holiday!

Of course, it could be worse.  You could work in one of more than 30 different types of workplaces which are allowed to remain open.  Businesses that have to do with the arts, museums,  tourism, restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations, laundromats, newspapers, media companies, used clothes stores, fleamarkets, car rental businesses and more are allowed to remain open.  In that case, you must work on Thanksgiving day, if Monday is a regular day of work for you.  For you, there is no day off, and no extra pay if you do work on Thanksgiving.

Featured image above: Heavy Clouds, by Dorothy Knowles (no date). Knowles, born in Unity, Saskatchewan in 1927, is one of my favourite artists. Credit- Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.

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