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B.C. employer allows staff to swap some stat holidays for ones that reflect their beliefs

Click to play video: 'B.C. Boys and Girls Club adopts flexible statutory holiday policy' B.C. Boys and Girls Club adopts flexible statutory holiday policy
The Boys and Girls Club of South Coast BC has adopted a policy that allows employees to choose some of their own statutory holidays. Global's Christa Dao explains how it works – Oct 4, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape the workplace, a Vancouver employer choosing to offer their staff more flexibility when it comes to the holidays.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC will allow roughly 120 full-time staffers to swap out any of five statutory holidays to better reflect their own beliefs, cultures and religions.

“We want to be inclusive and we recognize that means that people have different interests, different needs,” said Carolyn Tuckwell, the organization’s president and CEO.

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The move means Boxing Day, Thanksgiving, Good Friday, Victoria Day, and Canada Day could all be exchanged, if employees choose, for other holidays that suit them.

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“Those days all have very strong white European Christian roots to them,” Tuckwell explained.

“So the opportunity to switch for, perhaps, the opportunity to observe Eid, or perhaps to not observe Thanksgiving.”

The initiative was driven by staff, Tuckwell added, who had expressed an interest in observing holidays that aren’t traditional statutory holidays in B.C. or Canada.

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“It’s been overwhelming, overwhelmingly positive, I would say,” said Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC employee Ala Founouni.

“The fact that staff can recognize religious, cultural or personal days that are important to them exemplifies a commitment to decolonization.”

Seven other stat holidays, including Christmas, would not be available for substitution.

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Despite its religious background, Tuckwell said it’s not feasible since nearly everything else in the province is closed on those holidays.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30, is also off-limits, as it’s a day for reserved for listening and reflection, she added.

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Employment standards lawyer Eleni Kassaris said the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC is “kind of a trailblazer” in its approach.

“It’s looking at a list of statutory holidays that have been determined by the government’s and saying, ‘Well, this might not work for all of our people,'” she said.

Flexible holidays wouldn’t work in every organization, said the Dentons partner, but it’s a start.

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— with files from Christa Dao

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