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Good Friday, Easter and Passover in 2018

Good Friday, Easter and PassoverGood Friday, Easter and Passover fall at the same time in 2018. In addition, Easter Sunday falls on the same day as April fools day and according to the Daily Mail in the UK this is providing serious comedy value for social media users. For the first time in 73 years, this very important Christian religious holiday of Easter Sunday will share a date with a slightly less spiritual event; April Fool’s Day, which is also April 1. (To note, this also happened for Ash Wednesday this year, which fell on the same day as Valentine’s Day – February 14.)

In addition, the first night of Passover 2018 — March 30 — happens on Good Friday.

Employment Standards requirements for Good Friday and Easter

Good Friday, observed on March 30 this year, is a statutory (public) holiday recognized across Canada. Depending on the jurisdiction, most employees are entitled to a day off with regular pay or public holiday pay. If an employee is required to work on Good Friday, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off with pay at a later date, again, depending on the jurisdiction.

Easter Sunday, observed on April 1 this year, is a retail holiday in some provinces and territories. Under the authority of the Shops’ Closing Act, the Retail Business Holidays Act and other similar legislation, depending on the jurisdiction, all shops or retail businesses, other than those defined as exempt, are required to be closed.

Regarding Easter Monday (April 2), the Federal Government, as well as certain federally regulated workplaces, recognize the day as a statutory holiday (e.g., Canada Revenue Agency). Although, this may not necessarily be the circumstance for the provinces and territories.

That said, unless specified otherwise under employment standards legislation or any other applicable laws, Easter Sunday and Monday are not considered public holidays requiring the employer to give a day off with public holiday pay. Although, employers can provide such days as public holidays or allow employees to use them as floater days if they choose to do so.

In Quebec, however, if employers have not accommodated their employees on Good Friday with a day off with pay, they are required to provide employees with a day off with regular pay on Easter Monday. The employer may choose which day off it prefers, the Friday or Monday. If an employee is required to work on Easter Monday and did not receive Good Friday off, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off, with pay, at a later date.

Note: This blog post is just a reminder. There may be exemptions, special rules and additional requirements that may be found in the law and accompanying regulations of your jurisdiction. Consider consulting our payroll publication PaySource, which is a comprehensive source for Canadian payroll compliance information. Click here to try PaySource free for 30 days!

Religious observances and human rights law

Easter is a holiday that is widely considered the most important day of the Christian calendar, marking the resurrection of Jesus.

Passover (Pesach), a Jewish holiday, is an eight day holiday that commemorates the deliverance of Hebrew slaves and exodus out of Egypt. In 2018, Passover begins sunset on Friday, March 30 and ends in the evening of Saturday April 7. During this time, work is forbidden March 31 to April 1 and April 6 to 7. Work is permitted only on April 2 to 5 with certain restrictions (source).

Under human rights legislation, employers must accommodate Jewish employees by giving them the days off they require to observe their holiday. Some employers provide non-Christian employees with at least the same number of paid religious days as are provided for Christians by way of statutory (public) holidays (Good Friday and Christmas, which are based historically on Christian holy days). Many collective agreements require employers to provide Easter Monday as a paid holiday. Requests for paid leave days for religious holidays may also be accommodated by providing flexible work schedules, floating leave days or unpaid leave.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

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 18 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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