First published here in the Nova Scotia Advocate on Mar. 31, 2021. Updated on Apr. 6, 2023
Here’s a joke: in an adult English-as-a-second language class, the teacher asks the students to explain what Easter is.
One student volunteered: “English is the time when the jolly fat man goes down the chimney.” No that’s Christmas, said the teacher.
Another said, “It is the day to be thankful for the harvest and the food.” No, said the teacher, that’s Thanksgiving.
A third student explained, ”It’s the day when they take Jesus off the cross, and they put him in a cave, and when they roll away the rock, if he sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter.”
Well, if you have no union, Easter holidays are little more than a joke here in Nova Scotia. Good Friday (Apr.7) is a public holiday, and also a retail closing day. That means everyone gets the day off. But you only get paid for the holiday if you have earned pay for the preceding 15 out of 30 days, and if you work your shift the day before, and the day after the holiday.
A retail closing day means most retail stores, services and offices must be closed on Good Friday. Grocery stores, clothing stores, malls, banks, credit unions, car showrooms, print shops — to name a handful– must close. Convenience stores, smaller drug stores, gas stations, restaurants, cafés, bars and stores that cater to tourists can remain open.
If you have to work on Good Friday, and you qualify to be paid for the holiday, you will receive your regular day’s pay plus one and a half times your regular wages for the number of hours you work on that holiday. Let’s say you earn $20 an hour, and you qualify for the paid holiday. But your boss asks you to work. Let’s say you work a full day, 8 hours which would be 8 x $20 = $160 in pay. Plus another 1.5 x 8 x $20 = $240.00. Your total pay should be $160+$240 = $400.00.
What about Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday is also a retail closing day, but it is not a paid holiday. If you work at a large grocery or retail store it must be closed. You get the day off, but no pay for the day. And anyone who must work, for instance at a café or restaurant, receives no extra pay or time off.
Easter Monday is a holiday for many unionized employees, but not all. For example, schools, universities, public libraries, and some government offices will be closed Monday, and the workers will be given a day off with pay, according to their collective agreements.
However if you work in a retail store, or an office, or a service– your workplace will be probably open. And it will be a regular day of work for you at the regular rate of pay. No holiday.
While some people get three days off work, few get paid for more than one day. This is what Easter really means – Good Friday is the one day off with pay (under certain conditions).
Featured cartoon at the top: from the Omaha World Herald.
[…] my last blog here, I wrote that most people who work full-time in NS, get Good Friday as a paid […]