What is the legal effect of a SNOW DAY?
As a child, the practical effect of a wicked snowstorm was the cancelation of school- a “snow day.” A free pass to do whatever one wanted. Un cadeau.
But, is an Ontario employer required to pay its employees for the day, or at least comply with the “three-hour rule” if it is unable to provide work for the employee because of storms or similar causes beyond the employer’s control that results in the stopping of work?
Section 21.2, subsection (1) of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, SO 2000, c 41, only recently made law in 2018 pursuant to Bill 47, provides that:
If an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to present himself or herself for work but works less than three hours, despite being available to work longer, the employer shall pay the employee wages for three hours, equal to the greater of the following:
1. The sum of (i) the amount the employee earned for the time worked, and (ii) wages equal to the employee’s regular rate for the remainder of the time.
2. Wages equal to the employee’s regular rate for three hours of work.
One exception to that rule is subsection (2), which provides that subsection (1) does not apply if the employer is unable to provide work for the employee because of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond the employer’s control that result in the stopping of work.
(It should also be noted that pursuant to section 4.1 of Ontario Regulation 285/01 certain enumerated professions are also excluded form section 21.2 of the ESA.)
Takeaways for Employers
So, kind of a good news, bad news situation for workers. Good news- unexpected day off! Bad news- your employer may not pay you for it and the law says it doesn’t have to.
Have a question about the application of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000? Wondering what your legal rights or obligations are with respect to Ontario employment law? Call me. Email me. Do what works for you.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 613.238.6321 x233.
Sean P. Bawden is an Ottawa, Ontario employment lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawyer practicing with Kelly Santini LLP. He is also a part-time professor at Algonquin College teaching Employment Law for Paralegals. He has previously taught Trial Advocacy for Paralegals and Small Claims Court Practice.
As always, everyone’s situation is different. The above is not intended to be legal advice for any particular situation. It is always prudent to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions with respect to your own case.