Sunday, June 21 is the longest day of the year and marks the changing of seasons. It is also a very important day for Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, Inuit). In 1982, this day was chosen to celebrate the land and the Indigenous Peoples and their cultures. National Indigenous Peoples Day is a public (statutory) holiday in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
On National Indigenous Peoples Day in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, employees must be given a day off with pay.
In the Northwest Territories, to qualify for statutory holiday pay there are several conditions employees are required to meet:
- An employee must have worked for the employer for 30 days within the 12 months prior to the holiday.
- An employee must report to work on his or her last scheduled workday prior to the holiday and his or her next scheduled workday following the holiday.
- An employee must report to work on the holiday if he or she is scheduled or called to work.
- An employee on pregnancy or parental leave is not entitled to statutory holiday pay while she or he is on leave.
- Part-time employees are entitled to statutory holiday pay once they meet the conditions set out above.
- If an employee meets all the conditions for entitlement to statutory holiday pay and has National Indigenous Peoples Day off, he or she is entitled to receive an average day’s pay for the holiday.
If an employee meets all the conditions and works on National Indigenous Peoples Day, he or she must receive payment for the hours that he or she worked at the rate of time and a half, plus an average day’s pay. As an alternative, the employer may transfer the holiday to another day giving the employee a day off with pay.
In Yukon, if an employee does not work on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the employee must meet the following three conditions to be paid for the holiday:
- The employee must have been employed 30 calendar days before the holiday.
- The employee must work his or her last scheduled shift before and his or her first scheduled shift after the holiday (unless the absence is permitted by the territories’ Employment Standards Act).
- The employee is required to work on the holiday if called to work, but would be entitled to additional pay.
If National Indigenous Peoples Day falls on an employee’s day off, the first working day immediately following the general holiday becomes the general holiday for that employee.
If an employee does work on National Indigenous Peoples Day, in addition to his or her general holiday pay, there are two payment options when an employee works on a general holiday:
- Be paid at the applicable overtime rate for all hours worked on the general holiday; or
- Be paid at the employee’s regular rate for hours worked on the general holiday and be given a day off, which may be added to the employee’s annual vacation or taken at a time convenient to the employer and the employee.
It is important to note that even if an employee has worked for an employer for less than 30 days, the employee is entitled to both general holiday pay and the applicable overtime if she or he works on the holiday.
This is a sacred day for employees belonging to Canadian Indigenous communities. Employers in other provinces and territories may have to accommodate employees who want to observe this day. Communities hold feasts and invite guests.
Keeping up to date on how to treat public holidays across Canada
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Celebrating in your community
Communities outside of the Northwest Territories and Yukon celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. To view events that are being held in your province or territory, click here. Although it is a time to come together and celebrate, it is also a time to increase our understanding of Indigenous history and reflect on the issues facing Indigenous people today across Canada.