Do you have to pay an employee for Christmas?

Christmas Is A Statutory Holiday.

The Holiday season is nearly here and employees are soon to start asking about Christmas and Boxing Days and paid time-off.  Under the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code only Christmas is a Statutory Holiday.  While many companies acknowledge Boxing Day with paid time-off, it is not mandatory to do so.

There are five Statutory Holidays in Nova Scotia:  New Years Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour and Christmas Day.  All employers are required to grant their employees the Statutory Holiday off with pay.  Should the Holiday fall on a weekend (eg. Christmas 2010 falls on a Saturday) or another non-working day for an employee (eg. regularly schedule day off or vacation day), the employer shall grant a Holiday with pay on the working day immediately following the Holiday, or on the day immediately following the employee’s vacation, or grant another day on a mutually agreed day.

But what about George Costanza from Seinfeld?  You might remember he did not celebrate Christmas rather he celebrated Festivus.  Though this example is tongue in cheek the fact is that Nova Scotia is becoming increasing diverse and not all Nova Scotians celebrate Christmas.  Regardless of religious belief, race, creed or ethnicity, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act implies that all employees will get Christmas Day off with pay.  In the event that an employee indicates that they celebrate an alternate religious event, the employer would do well to provide that day off.  Note, if they employer provided pay on Christmas day they would not obligated to provide pay on the alternative day off.

Details of the Festivus Holiday at


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