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Know your rights: More on bosses breaking the law on Remembrance Day (updated)

Originally published on November 13, 2017. Updated and republished on November 6, 2018.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – On Remembrance Day morning, I drove to a gas station near downtown Halifax to fill up the car for a trip to the Annapolis Valley At the cashier’s counter a woman customer said, “wish me luck. I have to work today and it’s going to be busy.”

She said she worked as a bartender. The cashier at the counter said, “Yeah, I wish this was a holiday so we’d get extra pay.”

I told the cashier and the bartender about the Remembrance Day Act in NS – if they were paid for 15 of the last 30 days, and worked Remembrance Day, they had to get an extra day off with pay.

However, if your employer is closed on Remembrance Day, you get the day off without pay, unless you are represented by a union.  Most unions have negotiated pay for their members for Remembrance Day.

Both women were shocked. The bartender said, “My boss told me I’d just get paid time and a half for today.” The gas clerk said she expected only straight time pay for Remembrance Day. The women thanked me and said they’d each tell their boss.

An hour into my drive to Middleton, I stopped in at a well-known coffee shop. All fast-food chains and restaurants are allowed to open on Remembrance Day. They are exempt from having to close because, according to the Remembrance Day Act, they are deemed to be part of the “hospitality industry.”

As I sat down to drink my coffee at about 10.55 am, I watched the 8 women servers behind the counter pour coffee and bag donuts at a hectic pace. Waves of customers filed in and out of the restaurant.

I waited for the clock to register 10.59. The Remembrance Day Act insists that all work cease “for a period of three minutes, at one minute before eleven o’clock in the forenoon on Remembrance Day.” Rather than stop, the pace seemed to pick up. So I went to the counter and asked to speak to the manager.

A white man, about 40 years of age, greeted me cheerfully. I told him I noticed no one at the counter stopped working for three minutes around eleven. Panic crossed his face, “I just forgot, I guess,” he told me. “I was in the office in back.” I told him I was not an enforcement officer, but it was the law. Looking relieved, he said, “Maybe I can give the workers three minutes at 11.11 instead?” I told him the time was already 11.15. He said, “Maybe at noon then—I don’t mean any disrespect.” I smiled and said, “I hope you know you have to pay these workers for their shifts today and give them an extra day off with pay, because of Remembrance Day.”

He stood up straighter. In a patronizing tone he told me, “I think I know the law. I just have to pay them double time for today.”

I smiled again, no I don’t think so; I just wrote a blog about this; I teach it, I told him, handing him my card.

“I’ll go run off the law then,” he said tersely. He came back a short time later holding a printout of the Remembrance  Day Act. He looked puzzled, “the law must have changed – I don’t remember any of this. When did it change?”

“I think about 1989,” I said.

“Can’t be, there’s some rules about days they have to have worked before…”

I said, “Yes the employee has to have been paid for 15 of the last 30 days just before today.” I pointed out section 6, which explains the employee who works Remembrance Day is entitled to another day off with pay. He shrugged.

I guess he was worried that I’d report him. The act says that a boss can be fined $1000 for not complying with the law, and the employer can be fined up to $15,000 for non-compliance. But this boss—perhaps he is the franchise owner– did not have a clue about the rules.

I wonder how many bosses make it up as they go along? Lots more than we know. And employees – how many of them know their rights? If they know their rights how many are too afraid of losing their jobs to say something?

See also: Remembrance Day in Nova Scotia – Why you might not get paid

Judy Haiven is a retired Industrial Relations Professor at St Mary’s. She is a founding member of Equity Watch, which can be found on Facebook

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  1. What is the regulation for when Remembrance Day falls on a day the establishment is typically closed. For example this year it was on a Saturday, many offices are closed on Saturdays. Are those employees then supposed to be given a day in lieu?

        1. Yes, well I think again the UNIONS at the public school system have negotiated Remem. Day to be like a Stat holiday — in that it’s a day off with pay and the schools are closed.
          If you work elsewhere (not the school) your employer may just treat it as a stat holiday– because people need to be at home for their kids anyway, so there is no point in trying to force employees to come to work.

          1. Excel is school board based job but because it’s not a work day sat they didn’t get paid for Remembrance Day but school board closed on Monday but excel workers didn’t get pd is this allowed

      1. Ok judy do you want to tell me why it’s not a stat holiday in N.S but it is in places like NB and BC are we not all Canada ?

      2. Hi there. We are regularly open on Saturday and Sunday’s but as a full time employee I’m off for the weekends. The holiday happened to fall on a Saturday this year, should we be paid or no? Thanks !

        1. Not unless your boss is extra kind, or you have a union.
          If the place is open on Sat. and it remained open on Rem. Day, those people should get paid and then another (an extra) day off with pay.

      3. What if you’re regularly open, but aren’t working because you’re a full timer and the holiday falls on the weekend ? Should you be paid ?

  2. Ok… so employer pays time and a half for those who worked plus 8 hours … that’s proper right? I’m confused …

    1. No. The employer is supposed to give you (if you worked on Rememb. Day) and you had also worked 15 days out of the last 30 days, straight time for the Rememb. day itself plus one other day off plus the pay for that day.

      So if you and the employer agreed you would have Fri. the 17th off as your extra day, you would get that day off with pay. Just for having worked on Remembrance Day– that day at straight time wages.

    2. I’m responding to the person with a query about the Excel job for the Halifax School Board.
      Unlike teachers, who are in the NSTU, Excel workers are not unionized. Excel appears to be a contractor to the school board. Since the schools are closed on Monday in lieu of Remembrance Day, the NSTU has negotiated for teachers to be paid for that day off. No such thing happens with Excel. There is no union (but you can change that!!Sign up for a union and ask me how) at Excel currently, so because the schools were closed on Monday– there was no ‘work’ then you or someone who works for Excel did not get paid. Technically you got the day off with no pay.

    1. The Remembrance Day Act is only in NS. If you have a union where you work, your union already has a better deal (likely) for work that day and money, or a paid day off.

  3. No, if a person works on Remembrance Day they get straight time for working their shift.
    In addition the person gets another day off with pay, could be tacked to vacation, or another day by mutual consent with management.

    There is no time and a half.
    No double time.

    The person has to have worked for pay for 15 of the last 30 days.

  4. no one pays much attention to this act note sections 7 and 8. Also saw construction work on Quinpool Road Act does not exempt them until noon

    1. Your right Mark!! Labour laws need to start protecting the employee instead of the employer ,I had to take it off as a vacation day, so I could accompany my PTSD Veteran spouse to the service. Even if certain work places are covered under the “Industrial Undertaking” .Some of these places are suppliers for the Military, so you would think they would have more respect for Rememberance Day and Veterans, especially considering some of the employees may be Veterans that would have prefered to have their day off to greive and remember lost fellow members. Really….For all they have done, given up, and lost, for us,, I dont think thats too much to ask for!

  5. Hi Judy. I, too, am surprised you made no mention of the regulations for situations like this year and next year when Nov 11th falls on a weekend. It’s very confusing for the average Joe … who HAS to be closed on Monday 13th, who has the choice to close or remain open, and so on. Once I fully understand NS’s law governing Remembrance Day, then I’ll start trying to understand how the rest of the country operates. (Stock markets are open but banks are closed etc.) Confusing indeed.

    1. The Remembrance Day Act is only in NS. If you have a union where you work, your union already has a better deal (likely) for work that day and money, or a paid day off.

    2. Yes it’s very confusing. And deliberately so. The powers that be in this province are always bending to help employers. That is why there are so many exceptions to implementing this act. Most employees don’t know the rules and get cheated out of time off and pay.

    3. Yes, all you say is true. So the Public Libraries in Metro were closed on the day itself (Nov. 11) and today (Nov. 13). I don’t know why except that employees are in a union, NSUPE, and so are covered with better terms than the act itself.
      The same for City Hall in Metro, they had Nov. 13 off, and most did not work on the Saturday so had the 11th off anyway.

  6. This act also allows for manufacturing facilities to work like a large tire manufacturing plant in the province. It also states that no games or alcohol are supposed to be played or served prior to 12 noon, but that doesn’t happen either. The Nova Scotia Nunavut Command has been trying for years to get this day as a Stat that can’t be moved but their request falls on def ears!

    1. Yes! Turns out that under Labour Standards 2(h) says that any manufacturing is called “industrial undertaking”
      (from Labour Standards) (h) “industrial undertakings” includes mines, quarries and other works for the extraction of minerals from the earth, undertakings in which articles are manufactured, altered, cleaned, repaired, ornamented, finished, adapted for sale, broken up or demolished, or in which materials are trans- formed, including ship building and the generation, transformation, trans- mission and distribution of electricity or motive power of any kind, and undertakings in the construction industry;

      So highway work and factory work at Michelin can go on on Remembrance day

    2. Yes, im wondering how our plant gets away with straight pay,as if it was like any other day of the year,, I had to take it off as a vacation day, so I could accompany my PTSD Veteran spouse to the service.

  7. I own a small specialty retail business in the HRM. To my understanding, a co-worker must work 15 of the previous 30 days, and not have a scheduled day off prior or following the statuary holiday. Most of my co-workers are part time and never qualify, but I usually pay 5 hours for anyone that would have worked that day. I am not a saint. What pisses me off is that unionized government employees get paid for a day they would not have worked! November 11th was a Saturday. 99 percent of government employees were at home doing nothing, yet they get paid and small business is closed, and still paying co-workers. I respect Remembrance Day, trust me. Where is the balance?

    1. Well like it or not — unions which organize government workers — tend to treat Remembrance Day like a STAT HOLIDAY. Like Labour Day or Good Friday. Meaning everyone gets paid for a day off work, and the business or government office is closed as it would be on Labour Day or Good Friday.

  8. I think it’s a disgrace… specially on Nova Scotia but also for Canada. It should be a stat day all across. Holidays need to be the same for all of Canada, except for the province individual bday/holiday. Justin Trudeau needs to change this and make it equal all across

  9. So, how does affect people that work in a call centre? If Remembrance day fell on a weekday, should they have gotten another day off?

    1. If someone works in a Call Centre (in NS), he or she is subject to the Remembrance Day Act.
      If they are required to work on Sat. Nov. 11, they should get paid for the day and then an extra day off with pay as a holiday.

      Unfortunately with this Act, if the person does not work on the Saturday, they do not get the extra holiday off with pay. In this way it’s different from a Statutory Holiday such as Labour Day.

      But if the person does work on Nov. 11 (the Saturday this year) the employee must have earned money from the job for at least 15 of the previous 30 days.

  10. So the store owner was right. He acknowledged he had the pay double time for Remembrance Day , so he would be paying them for the day worked plus equal hours to be equivalent to another day off which is what double time would of meant.

  11. Ross”

    You got it wrong..I am a Vet,than worked 30 years with the pov gov. with a union my son is also a vet as my father and my grand father,and no dick shit I was not at home doing nothing I was the service in the freezing cold,of course in Afghanstane we had no choice P ay your employees and be thankful you live in Canada,and further any member of the armed services that come in your joint give them a free coffee. You respect your pocket book ….THAT WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT….

    1. This could be something you phone Labour Standards about.
      However as I read the act, if you are employed (rather than self employed) you are covered by the Act. There is this section:
      8 In circumstances beyond human control and for which no other arrangements can be made, the Minister of Labour may grant a permit for the doing of work required in the circumstances to meet an emergency, and the Minister may attach such conditions as he deems fair and reasonable in the circumstances. R.S., c. 396, s. 8.
      But I doubt this clause 8 covers you.
      I think you’re entitled to pay and a day off– phone labour standards and let me know.

  12. the whole comments are being based on wage l;oss not on the respect owed our serviemen and women ,past and present

  13. Yes well trade unions try to give better holidays and coverage than in the Remem. Day Act.
    In this case, unions such as the NSGEU (prov govt employees) treat Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday like Labour Day. The offices are closed, and the workers get the day off work with pay — even thought it’s on a Saturday.

    1. Yes, unions definitely improve conditions for workers. My union, the NSNU, (and I am sure this would apply to nurses at NSGEU) get paid time and a half for all hours worked on Nov 11th (0001 hours – 2359 hours). Those nurses also accumulate stat hours for hours worked. Nurses who work Monday to Friday get the day off, or the Monday off if the holiday falls on a weekend day like it did this year. Unionise people! You will benefit in many more ways than just 12 paid statutory holidays per year.

  14. I work in retail and the store is always opened on Saturday. However, we always close on Remembrance Day. Our schedules are made up to include Remembrance Day as one of our regular days off. We do not get an extra day off with pay. We do not get any extra money. Is this right?

    1. If the store is closed and so you don’t work on Nov. 11, you don’t get paid for the holiday.
      The only time you get paid for the holiday is if you have to work that very day.

  15. A friend called the Department of Labour and this is what they said:
    If you work Monday – Friday, and Remembrance Day falls on that you are entitled to a day off with pay or a day in Lieu of Remembrance Day. But if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday and that is not your normal day to work your employer does not have to pay you for the holiday or give you another day off in lieu of the Holiday. Unless they wish to do so. And the 15 of the previous 30 day rule does apply as well.
    So who is correct about the 15 day rule.

    1. Please suggest your friend read the Remembrance Day Act for himself or herself. http://www.nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/remembrc.htm

      If the business (let’s say an art supply store) is closed for Remembrance Day — which is on a Tues. let’s say — it is closed.
      If there is no union representing the workers, and there is no collective agreement that states otherwise, the workers do not get paid for that mandatory day off. The store is closed and that’s it.

      Of course if the business or office is unionized (which many government offices are) — the unions have negotiated a day off with pay for its members. Even though the office is closed on the Tues (let’s say) and no one is working there.

  16. As a veteran, I appreciate the story and pointing out the labour law for Nova Scotia. I did share this on my social media page as it is great information for employers and employees alike. But as a friend pointed out, if Judy is so concerned about Remembrance Day and it’s importance… Why was she at a “well known coffee shop” sipping on coffee on Remembrance Day instead of at a proper Remembrance Day ceremony. Hopefully next year you can find a cenotaph instead of a coffee shop.

    1. What she did here is far more important than being one more person at a Remembrance Day ceremony. It doesn’t mean she was being disrespectful, as you seem to be implying. It’s very important that people take care of workers and watch out for their rights and this just happens to be a blatant abuse, or maybe honestly just ignorance, of the law. Yes Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion and it’s good to observe it in accordance with all the protocols and conventions, but protecting the rights of workers is also important. It looks like there were millions of people observing the ceremonies ate cenotaphs but just one person trying to protect the rights of likely thousands of workers.

  17. Also just wanted to add a big thank you to Judy for a very informative article. As another commenter posted, labour relations in this province is seriously terrible. Thank you for making a complicated topic understandable, and for your patience with all the replies!

  18. What if you work a 12 hour shift? Do you get a 12 hour shift off? Or can the employer give you prorated (8) hours??

  19. So what if you don’t usually work on Saturday but your company closed to give the holiday for Monday? Are you supposed to be paid for that Monday off or no?

    1. Basically, if you don’t work that day, you are not paid. Unless you are in a union which has negotiated the day off with pay. In your case it seems like a day off without pay. Unless your company feels like paying you for the Mon. off.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’m getting paid for Monday off, my question was actually regarding my husband lol. He had the day off but not because he chose to so I figured that meant he should be paid for it.

  20. One more hitch in our not so wonderful legislation!
    Remember to get the day with straight pay — anyone who works the Nov. 11 on the job gets that. But to get the extra day off with pay, you need to have worked 15 of the last 30 days just before Nov. 11.
    So when we see coffee shops and more open on Nov. 11, we know often the bosses schedule part timers or casuals for the day so they don’t have the requisite 15 days out of 30 paid days of work.

  21. I work at a service station and yes we were open for remembrance day but we didn’t an extra day off with pay..as far as we have been told when questioned about it they dont believe we qualify for it….

  22. Judy do you cover Ontario labor laws as well . If so could you go over the many changes that have occurred as of Jan 1,2018 for everyone’s benefit. I am a small business owner and would like to know what my responsibilities are to my seasonal employees. Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on the subject.

    1. Just saw this Ken, and I think you should look at Employment Standards in Ontario. Many employers hire a lawyer who knows about labour law.

  23. Here’s a wuestion on paid holidays. I’m not a member of a union but I get paid 6% vacation pay for holidays. So stat holidays I don’t get paid for ? Is it ok for an employer to do so? Also if I still work the stat holiday I’m still entitled to time and half for working the holiday right?

    1. The 6% you get is to cover your 2 weeks’ pay for vacation.
      The employer is legally obligated to give you 6 PAID days off for stat holidays (in NS). Of course you have to have worked 15 of the previous 30 days, and you have to work the first normal shift after the holiday. These holidays are New Year’s Day, February Heritage holiday, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Xmas Day. The employer has to be closed on Remembrance Day, unless your employer is a tourist operator, or restaurant, or bar or gas station or drug store, and there are other exceptions. If you do have to work that day (and there is no union) you get paid straight time for the day of work, plus you get a day off with pay. So Remembrance Day is not a stat holiday as such.

  24. I have called the labour board and told the dexter’s construction workers work for straight time. The told me they were exempt. They are not doing emergency work it’s just gravel grading driveways. I feel this is wrong. Am I right?

    1. Well tasha, You’re right it’s non emergency, and it’s construction so it should be shut on Sun. 11 Nov. I think this is worth asking someone at Labour Standards about. On the face of it, it seems the workers should not be gravelling that day. If they are then they get the day’s pay and an extra day off with pay. Provided the workers have worked 15 of the last 30 days.

    2. Well Tasha: if you know someone who works at construction they are not supposed to work on SUN. 11 Nov. However there is no pay for them if they don’t work. If for some reason there is gravel digging or something on the 11th the workers are entitled to the day’s pay and also another day off with pay at a mutually agreement time. Of course to get the day off with pay, the worker has to have worked 15 of the last 30 days.

  25. Remembrance Day falls this year 2018 on Sunday. I work in construction and normally we don’t work Sunday. However, Stat Holiday falls on Monday. If we have to work Monday should we be paid straight time, time and a half or what’s the case?

    1. Well it’s not a stat holiday. It’s a store closing day for the Sunday. In union shops, usually the collective agreement allows Monday (following) to be a holiday for employees, if the business or organization is closed. Such as schools, or universities, or public library etc. In your case in CONSTRUCTION, chances are you have to work on Mon. 12 Nov. And there will be no extra pay or day off. Even if the worksite is closed on Monday which it does not have to be, the employer does not have to pay you wages for the day the worksite is closed.

  26. Unfortunately, in a lot of min wage employment, knowing the Labour Laws and your rights doesn’t equate to keeping your job. My son’s have worked various min wage jobs – gas stations, fasts food places – while in University or just out of school and lots of the laws are ignored. The requirement to be at work 15 mins before official shift starts and working so the departing staff member can cash out is often unpaid work. Lunch breaks are often unpaid despite being the only member of staff on site and unable to leave the store because they have to serve if a customer comes in during their break. Closing at the end of the business hours and performing end of day tasks, also often unpaid as the franchisee’s deem end of business = end of shift. I’ve had my son get home 2+ hours after store closing because of the restocking and cashing out tasks and not be paid. They pray on the lower income earners needing the job and being fearful of rocking the boat and losing their employment.
    Heck, they’ve even had employers who don’t give pay slips and so it’s impossible to check if they’ve been paid for the hours they’ve worked. Getting Labour Standards involved did result in getting the pay slips but also resulted in them losing their jobs.

    1. Yes, very true. These employers are real scoundrels and thieves. What is to be done? I don’t see Labour Standards going out of their way, or any group representing workers! Join Equity Watch, see our FB page.

  27. I live and work in Alberta. Born and lived in Nova Scotia much of my life.
    Alberta is pretty much, fully open all hours, except Christmas Day and New Years Day.
    The business I work for has always closed, and in this years Sunday date situation, we’ve closed Monday.
    We are a locally owned firm, in a high end field, competition at our level, they “observe” similarly.
    The multi-national, or chain outlets in the more consumer oriented part of our field, are business as usual.
    They lack the courage, of those we choose to honour.
    The law gives too many loop holes in interpretation.
    Close, or face a steep fine…it’s the only answer.
    Believe me all “the spin” in the world won’t make you look good violating this one !

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