Thursday, January 10, 2008

General Statutory Holidays: Reasonable Accommodations

There is an article published in the January 2008 issue of the Barreau du Québec on Vol. 40 no. 1 relating to "reasonable accomodations" when it comes to an employee's work schedule that I would like to bring to your attention.

Employers must carefully establish internal policies relating to statutory general holidays and non-working day with pay entitlements in conformity with the Labour Standards Act (Québec) ("LSA"). Specific measures must be taken to avoid any type of discrimination against employees, whether religious or otherwise, as a result of inequitable treatment when consenting or refusing to consent to requested non-working day with pay.

Section 60 of the LSA (Quebec) provides for the statutory general holidays which is defined to be (1) January first ; (2) Good Friday or Easter Monday, at the option of the employer; (3) the Monday preceding 25th of May; (4) first of July, or second of July where the first falls on a Sunday; (5) the first Monday in September; (6) the second Monday in October; and (7) 25th of December.

Where it may get complicated is when dealing with employees who are part of a certain minority group. To avoid any unnecessary suits and actions, internal policies must explicitly layout the treatment of employees' work schedules, for religious reasons or not, on days other than the aforementioned statutory general holidays. The rule of thumb in handling such requests must be for employers to reasonabliy accommodate time-off requests without discrimination or perception of discrimination by ensuring that its decisions does not result in a an employee suffering from unreasonable loss of pay or non-working day with pay entitlement or suffer in any unreasonable fashion, depending on the circumstances.

Interesting case law to read is: Hayley Cole v. Bell Canada (2007) T1114/9505

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