If I were in Seattle right now I’d be experiencing 17°C and sunny skies. The air around me would be warm and the grass would be green. Instead, I’m in Calgary where I can’t tell if the grass is green because it’s covered by 3 inches of snow.
Living in Canada can have it’s inconveniences like snow in April or a never-ending string of federal elections. With the passing of the Easter weekend though, it’s a good time to bring up one of the great things about Canada - statutory holidays. We’ll be enjoying a mandatory four day weekend up here while our friends in Seattle are slaving on through the rain.
It’s a bit difficult to summarize the differences between the two countries when it comes to holidays. The culture, laws, and language around them are different. There are 9 federally mandated statutory holidays in Canada (also called public holidays). On these days all businesses - federal offices and banks in particular – are closed. Businesses which are deemed “continuous operations” (i.e. transportation or communication services) are exceptions.
Under the Labour Standards Act employers are required to give time off or pay in lieu for these holidays. Most employees are entitled by law to take the day off and receive full salary for the day, however, some businesses may require employees to work on statutory holidays – in these cases the workers must be compensated financially (1.5x or 2x their regular wages) and in some cases they are also given another day off.
For 2011 the public holidays are:
New Years, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Excluding Victoria Day (which stems from our stronger British roots) and Thanksgiving (which is the same but on a different day) these holidays will be familiar to Americans. The major difference being that a holiday doesn’t guarantee time off work. For Americans this is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays. Paid holidays are a normal part of a compensation and benefits package offered by employers to attract and retain employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that for the category “all full time employees,” 7.6 is the average number of paid holidays for employees in the United States. Professional, technical and related employees average 8.5 paid holidays while clerical and sales employees average 7.7 paid holidays. Blue collar and service employees have, on average, 7.0 paid holidays.- about.com
Those averages are at least 6% less than the minimum number of days off work in Canada.
So what does this mean for productivity? How does it compare to European countries which anecdotally have more time off than either of us?
To be continued…