Do you need to shut down due to the weather?

What are an employer's obligations to employees when they've had to shut down their place of business due to bad weather?

Do you need to shut down due to the weather?

Employer’s obligations are legislated in each province. If the employer reached the employees ahead of time to cancel their shift or informed them that the warehouse was closed due to weather conditions, then there is no requirement to pay the employees, providing the company doesn't have a binding union agreement or policy regarding this matter.  If they didn't work, they don't get paid.

If the employees were sent home after showing up for their shift, the following applies for minimum pay requirements:

 British Columbia

 4 hrs if scheduled to work more than 8 hrs; otherwise 2 hrs


 3 hours


 3 hours


 3 hours


 3 hours


 3 hours and if applicable,any tips normally received during this period

 New Brunswick

 3 hours if paid less than twice minimum wage

 Nova Scotia

 3 hours (at least at minimum wage)

 Prince Edward Island

 3 hours

 Newfoundland & Labrador

 3 hours and may pay unworked portion of 3 hours at minimum wage

 Northwest Territories

 4 hours


 4 hours


 2 hours


 3 hours

Some exceptions:

BC Employment Standards Act states that there is an exception to the minimum pay requirements if "the work is suspended for reasons completely beyond the employer's control, including unsuitable weather conditions."  In which case, the employer must pay the employee for a minimum of 2 hours at the employee's regular wage.

Alberta Employment Standards states that this three-hour minimum does not apply if the employee is not available to work the full three hours.

Saskatchewan Labour Standards state that minimum pay rules do not apply to:

1.    students in Grade 12 or lower during the school term;

2.    janitors, caretakers, and building cleaners;

3.    school bus drivers; and

4.    noon hour supervisors employed by a school board.

If these employees work, they are only paid for the time worked.

Ontario Employment Standards Act states that there is an exception to the minimum pay requirements 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."

Quebec's Commission des Normes du Travail states that "this provision does not apply in the case of superior force (example: fire) or when the employee is hired for periods of less than 3 hours (example: certain ushers, school bus drivers, school crossing guards, etc.)."

New Brunswick Employment Standard notes "Where an employment situation is covered by a collective agreement, the provisions of the Employment Standards Act relating to the minimum reporting wage do not apply."

  •  Natasha Smyth, B.SC.(Agr.), CPM

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