New Family Day a challenge for national employers

Many keen to apply equitable national strategy
By Sarah Dobson
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 03/07/2008

Ontario’s new Family Day is complicating the efforts of employers looking to apply an equitable national strategy when it comes to statutory holidays.

That’s according to HR services company Hewitt Associates which found, in a survey of 265 companies, more than one-half (58 per cent) of those in Ontario have a national policy with respect to statutory holidays, so they grant the same number of days off to workers in each province, regardless of provincial requirements.

"The lost-productivity costs associated with an extra day off can be staggering," said Tim Clarke, Canadian benefits practice leader at Hewitt.

"Organizations that already provide a generous statutory holiday policy in order to ensure that all their employees, regardless of location, get the same number of non-vacation days off per year have been painted into a corner by the Ontario government."

Family Day is also offered in Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (as Louis Riel Day).

Currently statutory holiday requirements range from a low of six per year (in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) to a high of 10 (in Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Ninety-two per cent of employers that operate in Ontario alone provide 10 or more holidays or “floating” days per year.

Three-quarters of those that operate in Ontario alone or in Ontario and other parts of the country, but have a statutory holiday that varies by province, will add another paid holiday for employees, found Hewitt.

But for those employers that have a national policy, one-half will use one of the floating holidays for Family Day while one-quarter (26 per cent) are undecided, meaning only 12 per cent have decided to add another day off.

Companies that eliminate a floating day to cover Family Day should implement a clear employee communication strategy to avoid bad reactions.

"Many employees may not realize how generous their employer already is," said Anthony Perlman, principal and senior benefits consultant with Hewitt in Toronto.

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