Employer not required to make Family Day a holiday under collective agreement: Arbitrator

Agreement had provision to add Heritage Day in February if it was proclaimed
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An arbitrator has ruled an Ontario company did not violate its collective agreement when it substituted the new Family Day holiday for one of its floating holidays.

Agropur, Division Natrel, a Longueil, Que.-based dairy co-operative, sent a memo to employees of an Ontario plant on Jan. 23, 2007, saying the collective agreement allowed for nine paid holidays and four paid “float days.” Since the total of 13 paid days off each year was more than the minimum of nine provided for in the Ontario Employment Standards Act, Agropur said employees would be expected to work on Feb. 18, 2008, which was the date of the new Family Day holiday.

The union filed a grievance, saying the collective agreement provided for the possibility of a new February holiday to be included. A provision in the agreement, first included when the Ontario government considered a February holiday in 1978, stated if the government declared “Heritage Day” as a statutory holiday, it would be added to the list of holidays defined in the agreement. The union considered “Heritage Day” to refer to any new holiday in mid-winter and that was the intention of the clause. The union also said the floating days weren’t guaranteed holidays as they could be paid out instead of being taken and they were also considered separate from the list of statutory holidays in the agreement. Therefore, they shouldn’t be considered a better benefit than the statutory holidays provided for by law.