The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is now required to be observed regardless of collective agreement provisions.
On May 11, 2023, Bill 24 received Royal Assent in the B.C. Legislature. Part 5 of the Bill amends section 3 of the B.C. Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”) such that the “meet or exceed” test for collective agreements is not applicable with respect to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
In other words, all provincially regulated employers in British Columbia must provide their employees with a statutory holiday on the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation even if their employees are subject to a collective agreement that contains provisions that “meet or exceed” the statutory holiday provisions under the ESA.
The only exception to this requirement are with respect to those employees exempt under the B.C. Employment Standards Regulations.
A copy of Bill 24 can be found here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/42nd-parliament/4th-session/bills/third-reading/gov24-3
Background on National Day for Truth & Reconciliation
On March 9, 2023, the B.C. government passed legislation making September 30th a new provincial statutory holiday to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
As a statutory holiday, eligible employees would be entitled to a paid day off, or receive payment at overtime rates if required to work.
British Columbia joins Canada, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon as jurisdictions that have designated September 30th as a statutory holiday.
The “Meet or Exceed” Test
Section 3 of the ESA provides that, if the collective agreement contains provisions on certain matters, and such provisions “meet or exceed” the requirements of the ESA, then these collective agreement provisions replace the corresponding Parts or sections of the ESA and those ESA requirements do not apply.
The matters in a collective agreement that are subject to the “meet or exceed” test include:
- Special clothing
- Hours of work or overtime
- Statutory holidays (not including the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation)
- Annual vacation and vacation pay
- Seniority retention, recall, termination of employment or layoff