This upcoming August 1 will mark Heritage Day in Alberta, when
many Albertans will recognize Canada's diversity and celebrate
the nation's cultural heritage. However, Heritage Day is
neither a nation-wide holiday, nor is it enjoyed by all employees
Employers are faced with a recurring question on the first Monday
of each August: whether to grant an additional holiday to their
Heritage Day in Alberta is optional - employees may be afforded a
paid vacation day, depending on the employer.
The Employment Standards Code of Alberta specifically
designates nine days as general holidays in Alberta:
New Year's Day
Alberta Family Day
However, while there is no express mention in the Code of
Heritage Day specifically, section 25 of the Code does recognize that any
other day in the calendar year can be designated by an employer as
a holiday. Easter Monday, Boxing Day and Alberta Heritage Day are
all examples of instances where many employers have, by agreement,
designated days as additional general holidays for their
If an employer designates Heritage Day as a general holiday, then
all of the rules pertaining to general holidays and general holiday
compensation will apply to employees.
An employee will be eligible for general holiday pay if he/she has
worked for that employer for 30 days or more in the preceding 12
On the other hand, employees will not be entitled to general
holiday pay if they do not work on the general holiday when
required or scheduled to do so. They will also not be entitled to
general holiday pay if they are absent from work (without the
employer's consent) on the last regular work day
before or the first regular work day
after the general holiday.
If an employee is not scheduled to work on a general holiday but
does work on that day, the employee will be entitled to pay in the
amount of 1.5 times the wage rate (for each hour worked during the
holiday). If a general holiday occurs on a regularly scheduled
working day and the employee works, the employee is entitled to
Pay of 1.5 times the regular rate for all hours worked
plus one day's pay, or
Pay at the regular rate for all hours worked
plus a day's holiday with pay on another
Heritage Day may not be a holiday for everyone, but many
Albertan employers are using their discretion to grant this
optional holiday to employees across the province. If Heritage Day
is a designated holiday at your place of work, take a moment to
celebrate Canada's multiculturalism and diversity on August
Note that other eligibility requirements may dictate whether
employees qualify for general holiday pay. Eligibility requirements
are outlined in the Employment Standards Code of
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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