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November 11, 2012, Remembrance Day, public holiday in some jurisdictions/memorial day in others

In Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador Remembrance Day is a paid public (statutory) holiday under the Employment Standards Act. Employees get a day off with regular pay and/or holiday pay; if the employee is required to work on the holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off with pay at a later date (depending on the province or territory of employment). Federally regulated employees also have a holiday on Remembrance Day.

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia some employees get a day off under the Remembrance Day Act. Employees who do not work that day, do not get paid for the day, unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit.

Every employer carrying on or engaged in an industry to which the Remembrance Day Act does not apply must relieve all employees from duty, and suspend the operations of the industry or sector, for a period of three minutes, at one minute before 11 o’clock on the forenoon of Remembrance Day.

It is important to note that Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday this year. For specific requirements for your jurisdiction, consult the Library section of HRinfodesk.

In Manitoba, for example, government guidelines indicate retailers in communities that normally allow Sunday shopping can be open, but must follow both the Remembrance Day rules and the Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act (Sunday shopping rules). This means retail businesses can be open no earlier than 1 p.m. and must close no later than 6 p.m. Employees working on Remembrance Day are entitled to one and a half times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked, but not less than half the normal working hours of a regular working day, in addition to five percent of their earnings in the 28 days before Remembrance Day. Employees in Manitoba’s retail establishments have the right to refuse work on Remembrance Day, as they do on Sundays, providing 14 days notice is given to employers.

What is Remembrance Day?

When World War One ended, (or the Great War, as it was known at that time), an armistice agreement was signed between the Allies and Germany which took place in Paris, France, at 5:00 AM (Paris time), on Monday, November 11th, 1918. Upon signing this agreement, hostilities ceased at 11:00 A.M.

Every person in Canada is called to take a moment of silence on November 11 at 11:00 a.m. every year to commemorate Canadian contributions and sacrifices in wars and international conflicts.

The poppy represents the symbol of Remembrance.

Remembrance is the cornerstone of The Royal Canadian Legion’s work in Canada. The Poppy Campaign is a major source of funds used to assist veterans, ex-service people and their dependents. A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. Lieut-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem IN FLANDERS FIELDS, made the same connection 100 years later, during the First World War, and the scarlet poppy quickly became the symbol for soldiers who died in battle. In November 1921, the first symbolic poppies were distributed in Canada.

Some believe that Remembrance Day should become a national holiday across Canada. I do, too!

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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