If you’d gone to the Atlantic Superstore on Easter Sunday, you’d have found the doors closed, but not for the reason you think. True, it’s a holy day for observant Christians but, unlike Good Friday, Nova Scotia law does not consider it a paid holiday. However, the law DOES require big retail stores to close, which means their employees, who are not unionized, can’t work and therefore don’t get paid.
For them, it’s Bad Sunday.
Confused? The link above is the government’s attempt to explain it, but it can be head-scratcher. It helps to remember this: government can force stores to close whether or not it’s a paid holiday.
The workers affected are in retail stores greater than 4,000 square feet (370 square metres). That means the most useful stores, selling goods such as groceries and hardware, are closed on Bad Sunday — with no legal requirement for holiday pay.
Many retail employees are not even aware of this because they’re on shift work, so the bosses simply avoid scheduling anyone for Bad/Easter) Sunday. That means the loss of an outrageous number of paid shifts, a loss obscured by the scheduling process.
Retail folks not doing shift-work, however, are well aware they’re getting docked and they don’t like it.
The unions don’t care because their members are covered by collective agreements and therefore exempt from this law. In addition to Good Friday, they typically get Easter Monday off with pay. Some of the larger non-union shops follow suit because management would rather not take a stand.
This is what the Nova Scotia government does with its non-union employees, most of whom are managers. The union long ago negotiated Good Friday and Easter Monday as paid holidays. Managers get the same deal without having to bargain for it.
Adding to the confusion is a long list of very specific exceptions to Bad Sunday. It includes taverns, prefabricated home sales and fish stores, to name a few. Detail lovers can find more here, under “Exceptions”.
As for consumers, well, they can get drunk on Bad Sunday, but they can’t buy a hammer.