KELOWNA - Other than politics and religion, is there anything that divides us more than who gets two days off at Easter and who doesn’t? Is there anything more confusing?
Who gets time off around Easter pretty much comes down to the haves and the have-nots. If you’re just a regular working stiff, working 9 to 5 in an office, Friday is likely you’re only day off; Easter Monday is not recognized as a statutory holiday in the B.C. Labour Code.
But if you’re in a health or public sector union, (or work for a big financial institution) you probably have both days off. Most major unions have long since negotiated Easter Monday as an adidtional holiday into their contract.
The universal still rule applies to those who toil in the hospitality and retail sectors — for the most part, you’re working when everyone else is enjoying the day off.
“That’s the way it is in this business,” says Louis Drummond, co-owner of three restaurants in downtown Kelowna. “It’s understood, when they are hired, there will be that 10 weeks during the summer and around some holidays where it is non-stop. So you can’t take a job like this and then ask for three weekends off in a row. You won’t be working for long.”
Still, Drummond says his focus during the family-oriented holidays — Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas — is as much on the staff as it is on the customers, especially the older, long-term staff who may have families of their own.
“It’s different at the Cactus Club where an enormous number of the staff are single and under 22,” he says. “At the Sturgeon Hall, you try to give your people a day off when you can or multiple days off in the middle of the week if possible. It’s part of staff retention."
Most of the big banks operating within B.C. give both Monday and Friday off. According to the Canadian Bankers Assocation website, as federally regulated entities, banks must follow the Canadian Labour Code which follows the federal definition of statutory holidays (For the record, the feds don’t recognize Easter Monday either).
The bankers association says the observance of Easter Monday, any other provincially legislated holiday, is a “discretionary business decision” made by the banks themselves.
While union contracts have detailed language around statutory holidays, they also lay out minimum service levels for some positions — think nurses, doctors, firefighters and cops, but also the men and women who must watch over other critical infrastructure such as sewage plants and electrical substations.
“Staffing levels will vary from site to site. Anyone who needs urgent care will still get it,” reports Karl Hardt, a communications officer with the Interior Health Authority. “For example, the emergency room never shuts down. There will be staff on hand for diagnostic procedures, either at the facility or on call.”
Stu Leatherdale, director of human resources for the City of Kelowna, says most civic employees will enjoy both days off, again largely because of a collective agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“The waste water treatment plant and and the landfill will be manned. There will be duty managers on at the Kelowna Airport,” he says. “If it’s safety related like roadways operations, someone will be on call with a cellphone.”
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