Requirement to work on a public holiday in Ontario

What is the Employment Standards Act?
 
The Employment Standards Act is the law that contains basic rules about employing people and working. Both employees and employers have rights and
responsibilities under the Act.
 
Does the Act cover all employees in Ontario?
 
Most employees are covered by the provincial legislation. However, employees working in industries that fall under Federal jurisdiction, such as, Post office, Banks, Railways, Radio stations, Airlines, Television stations etc. are not covered. 
 
If you are member of the trade union and your contract of employment is governed by the collective agreement, you may not be covered by the Act.
 
If you are currently employed with the company, you may be able to file a claim with a request that your name not be disclosed. The Act protects you when you are exercising your rights under it.
 
There are certain businesses such as hospital, a continuous operation, hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant or tavern that cannot be closed down when public holiday occurs. In such businesses, the employer can require an employee to work on public holiday. The employee does not lose his or her entitlement to public holiday but it is given in a different manner. For details, please refer to my article on Requirement to work on public holiday.
 
In this article, it is assumed that the employee has agreed to work on a public holiday. For entitlement to public holiday, the employees are expected to work a day before and a day
after the holiday unless they have a reasonable cause. 
 
The Act places certain obligations on the employee. These are detailed below.
 
1. If the employee, without reasonable cause, performs none of the work that he or she was required to perform on the public holiday, the employee has no entitlement.
2. If the employee, with reasonable cause, performs none of the work that he or she was required to perform on the public holiday, the employer shall give the employee a substitute day off work or public holiday pay for the public holiday, as the employer chooses.
3. If the employee performs some of the work that he or she was required to perform on the public holiday but fails, without reasonable cause, to perform all of it, he or she is entitled to premium pay for each hour worked on the public holiday but has no other entitlement.
4. If the employee performs some of the work that he or she was required to perform on the public holiday but fails, with reasonable cause, to perform all of it, the employer shall give the employee wages at his or her regular rate for the hours worked on the public holiday and a substitute day off work or public holiday pay for the public holiday plus premium pay for each hour worked on the public holiday, as the employer chooses.
5. If the employee performs all of the work that he or she was required to perform on the public holiday but fails, without reasonable cause, to work all of his or her last regularly scheduled day of work before or all of his or her first regularly scheduled day of work after the public holiday, the employer shall give the employee premium pay for each hour worked on the public holiday but the employee has no other entitlement.
    
If you or the employer disagrees with the investigating officer’s decision, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of the officer’s decision. The Board appoints a referee to hear the appeal. It does not cost the employee to request an appeal but the employer may be required to deposit monies in trust with the Ministry of Labour if it is found to be owing. The referee decision is final and binding on both parties.    
 
In the past, the Ministry was very aggressive in defending the rights of an employee and would send a legal counsel to represent the employee at the Board’s hearing to deal with the matter. It rarely does so now. Obviously, the employer has advantage over the employee in these circumstances. The question arises, should the employee also engage the services of a professional? It is my view, employee’s may not engage such services at the officer’s level hearing but may do so at the at the referee level hearing, particularly, if the issues are complex.
 
It is important that if a hearing has been scheduled, the employee must attend such a hearing to present evidence to support its position or to contest the employer’s evidence,
otherwise, the officer or the referee may rely on the evidence of the employer to render a decision.   
 
This information is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as a legal advice.

This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at esaconsulting@hotmail.com

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.
 

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