“Christmas” Closure 2021?

Shawnee Love   •   October 22, 2021

With Autumn colours all around and a light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic (I hope) it seems like the time is right to turn your mind to your December holiday schedule.

With Christmas Eve on a Friday, I am anticipating a lot of clients will stop working early for a typical Christmas Cheer. Healthcare and retail will not have the luxury of course, but this is my prediction for companies in construction, tech, manufacturing, professional services, etc.

As Christmas Day (a stat in all provinces) happens on a Saturday, I expect that Monday will be observed as the stat in most places.

For organizations which also recognize Boxing Day (Sunday, December 26, 2021), Tuesday will also be a holiday and means a much needed four day weekend for many folks.

New Year’s Day (a stat in all provinces) will thus be taken Monday in the same fashion Christmas was taken on a Monday.

What remains to be decided is what to do with the 29th-30th-31st and maybe the 28th for places where Boxing Day is not a stat.

If you stay open, now is a good time to discuss who will be working, because many people will have childcare and other personal commitments which schedules may need to work around and thus preplanning is necessary.

If you opt to close (many organizations will because there isn’t enough business [or staff] to stay open) then now is the time to determine and communicate how you want to handle the time off.

The options we commonly discuss are either having employees take the days as unpaid time or as vacation. I do not recommend mandating people take their vacation at that time. Not only does it feel unfair to be told this late in the year when vacation might already be used up, but being forced to take vacation in this fashion somewhat undermines the point of vacation as a restorative measure.

Another rarer option is to simply gift the time. I.e., “Free” paid vacation. With so many people experiencing Covid fatigue, I know this kind of treat will be a welcome respite in 2021 even if it can’t be a regular offering in future years.

Less common, I have some employers who offer the opportunity for employees to build up some lieu time in advance and take it off during that Christmas week. This option usually only works if staff normally work less than 40 hours per week and thus they can work a bit more each week ensuring the extra time worked is not overtime.

We are still in uncertain times of course, so things may yet change but taking some time to plan now may avoid confusion and unnecessary angst as we near the holiday season.