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Will you get paid on Labour Day? It’s complicated

An earlier version of this article was first published on September 1, 2019

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Despite Labour Day being a public holiday, and a retail store closing day in Nova Scotia – grocery stores are allowed to be open—if they are smaller than 4,000 square feet. Also allowed to remain open are flea markets, fish stores, Laundromats, pool halls, and even used clothing stores, according to the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act. Of course gas bars, hotels, restaurants and bars are absolutely allowed to stay open.

But what about pay? In Nova Scotia, Labour Day is one of the six paid holidays in the year.  If your workplace is closed that day, or you do not work that day, you are entitled to a day off with pay.

To qualify for the day off with pay you need to have worked 15 of the last 30 days, AND your last scheduled shift before the holiday, and your first scheduled shift after the holiday.

Of course so many employers keep staff on part time hours, that it’s sometimes hard to find out if you qualify.  

If your regular day off is Monday, then – if you qualify – you get another day off with pay, which substitutes for the Labour Day holiday.

If you qualify for the paid day off, but you have to work on Labour Day, you are entitled to your normal day’s pay, plus time and a half for the hours you work.  Some people call this double time and a half – but it is more complicated.

If you normally work 8 hours at $13/hr, (note: minimum wage in NS is now $12.95 per hour) you get $104.  On Labour Day, if you have to work only 5 hours, that works out to 5 x $13 =  $65, plus half again as much $32.50. So if you do work Labour Day and you qualify for the holiday pay, and you only work 5 hours – you’d earn $104 + $65 + $32.50 =  $201.50.

If a union represents you, you’ll certainly get paid for the holiday, and under your collective agreement, there will be better terms if you have to work that day.  

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, an organization that fights discrimination, bullying and racism in the workplace.  Contact her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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