In NS, Xmas is a paid holiday, but Boxing Day is not

Only one more sleep until Christmas. Will it be a paid day off for you? What about Boxing Day – and New Year’s Day?

This year Christmas falls on Sunday; it’s a paid holiday and a retail closing day.  So stores and businesses are closed.  Monday is Boxing Day, it’s not a paid holiday but it is a retail closing day.  Technically your workplace  (unless it’s a restaurant, a hotel, or a gas bar and some other places) must be closed on Sunday and Monday.  Stores, malls, and most businesses will open again on Tuesday.

If your workplace is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, you earn holiday pay — a paid day off – as long as you have met two conditions:  

1.  you have to have worked for pay for at least 15 of the last 30 calendar days. And 

2.  you must have worked your last scheduled shift just before the holiday, and your first scheduled shift just after the holiday.  

If you have not met both conditions, then you will not receive holiday pay and you won’t be paid for your day off workHoliday pay is your hourly wage times the number of hours you normally work.

If you have to work on Xmas Day or New Year’s Day and you are not in a union

If you do work either Christmas Day or New Year’s Day (or both) – and if you qualify for holiday pay (see above), you will also earn premium pay for working on the holiday.  So if, for example, you have to work on New Year’s Day for seven hours, and you normally earn $15 an hour, your holiday pay would be $105.  Your premium pay for working is $157.50 (one and a half times your pay) which is added to your $105 and totals $252.50 for the day.  Note the difference between holiday pay of only $105, versus premium pay of $227.50.  

If you work in food service or a hotel and you must work on Christmas Day, you may only get paid your regular wage not premium pay.  That is because your employer will likely select employees to work who have not worked 15 of the last 30 days, or they may not have worked a scheduled shift the day before or the day after the holiday. Then the employee misses out on the holiday pay and the premium pay. Of course the employee is entitled to regular pay for working that day.  

When a holiday is not a holiday — another punishment holiday courtesy of the NS government

That day is Boxing Day. In Nova Scotia, Boxing Day is not a paid holiday, though it is a Retail Closing Day. Though most shops, grocery stores, malls, warehouses, services, restaurants and factories will be closed, employees will not get paid for the day off. If you work at a café, or hotel, or gas station (which are allowed to remain open) you will earn a regular day’s pay for working on Boxing Day—no premium pay. 

Photo of a cardinal, by Kim Taylor Hull


In case you are wondering…

-In NS Labour Standards does not obligate employers to close early on Xmas Eve. Employees can be asked to work a full shift even into the evening.

–There is no change to the two requirements for receiving premium pay for work on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day: employees still have to work 15 out of the last 30 days, plus they have to work their shift before and after the holiday.  

– the only way around these miserly rules is to join a union.  Most unions have negotiated better holidays, conditions and pay than what is provided by Nova Scotia Labour Standards. Unions also try to negotiate more than the measly six public holidays a year given by NS Labour Standards. 

Featured Image: Skaters and Skiers by Molly Joan Lamb Bobak, Canadian artist (1920-2014).

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