Reduced Statutory Holidays for Frontline Retail Workers?

stat holiday reduction

Since the posting of this update, the Ford government has announced that it has rejected this proposal and will not be changing statutory holidays for any workers.

To say that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on many aspects of our lives would be an understatement. For many people, it has meant a reduction in work, often in the form of layoffs. However, for some people, it may result in additional working days. Specifically, sources say that the Ontario government is planning to reduce statutory holidays for front line retail workers.

Currently, there are nine statutory holidays in Ontario. While there are some exceptions, the vast majority of businesses are closed on those days, and the vast majority of workers enjoy a paid day off. However, the expectation is that this subsection of workers would only enjoy three going forward: Christmas Day, Good Friday and Canada Day.

While this was apparently explained as an effort to help businesses recover from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also being characterized as a pilot project that would last for two years, which suggests that it might continue if it is deemed to be successful.

There is no doubt that as our society evolves, the nature of holidays changes as well. There was a time when the Province virtually shut down on Sundays for religious reasons. Things have changed a lot since then, as our society has become more multicultural and holidays less religion-based. It would not be surprising to see a move away from religious-based holidays, but interestingly, this proposal would maintain Christmas and Easter as statutory holidays.

This has not yet been confirmed, so stay tuned for updates as things evolve. For up to date information you need on COVID-19 and the workplace, visit our COVID-19 Resource page.