Stat holidays are costly to employers and the provincial economy

The announcement of Family Day, another statutory holiday in BC, has predictably met with widespread approval, especially by employees. Who wouldn’t want another day off with full pay?

The announcement of Family Day, another statutory holiday in BC, has predictably met with widespread approval, especially by employees. Who wouldn’t want another day off with full pay?

Let’s have at least one each month!

And yet, there is another perspective. There is a major downside to adding another day to the nine current paid holidays, which do not include Easter Sunday, Easter Monday or Boxing Day which many employers also treat as if they also were statutory paid holidays.

The cost on employers is high. A firm having 30 employees averaging $30 an hour for an eight-hour day suddenly, with the premier’s smiling announcement, becomes responsible for paying out $7,200 for precisely nothing in return. And the owner wasn’t even consulted! Beyond that, the owner also loses production and service for clientele.

What about public employees? Take the case of the Fraser Health Authority. It has 26,000 staff members, not counting the 2,500 physicians. The FHA cannot close its hospitals and care homes for a day. It must continue with its operation, but thanks to this new regulation, it must now pay its hourly employees time and a half for working on a statutory holiday.

This scenario takes in all of B.C.’s health care workers and all other civil servants and Crown agency employees, such as ferry workers, police officers, firefighters and more. This additional holiday turns out to cost millions.

There are many other additional costs. What about restaurants, hotels, gas stations, bus drivers, farm workers, and media personnel?

The provincial economy produces less. And when employers close their firms for a day because they can’t afford to pay time and a half, the government gets less tax revenue.

There may be justification for creating a paid Family Day. Some other provinces have done so, but we should at least be aware of the costs to employers, to taxpayers, and to the provincial economy.

John H. Redekop

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