The “cost” of Family Day

Since British Columbia’s Family Day stat holiday comes a week earlier than other provinces with a similar stat, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business started their whining on the west coast recently.

A piece on the CBC website details how “costly” statutory holidays are for business. But as usual, whenever the CFIB opens their mouths, my math spidey sense started going off. Most of the time their numbers either don’t add up, or are often misleading.

The CFIB claims Family Day costs $1,100 for a small business with five or fewer employees. Really? Using a few reasonable assumptions, such as five minimum wage employees (because god knows, the CFIB wishes their members didn’t have to pay even that much), I made some comparisons.

Assuming there was no stat holiday (or the business closed during the stat), a business with five employees earning $10/hour working 8 hours each would have to pay those employees $400 in wages. Add in the employe’rs share of EI and CPP and total cost is under $430.

Assuming the business was open for 8 hours with all 5 employees working, the wages and employer’s share of EI and CPP would come to just under $1,100. Maybe this is where the CFIB gets its number.

This of course completely assumes that the business hours would be the same whether it was a stat or not. Something that (at least where I live) often doesn’t happen. Many businesses operate reduced hours on stat holiday’s, much like they do on a Sunday.

So if you are comparing stat to no-stat, the actual incremental cost is about $670. Of course this assumes that the business doesn’t see an increase in revenue because of the stat holiday compared to no-stat. Something the CFIB seems to have glossed over in the CBC piece.

The article also quotes business owner Sacha Thompson who says she has “no choice” but to open on the stat. I call BS. It’s a choice, and she made it. If her business doesn’t generate enough revenue to justify the incremental cost of being open, then the prudent thing to do is to close the doors.

Where I live in Saskatoon, there are more than a few businesses that choose to close their doors on Sunday and even have signs that say things like “closed to spend time with our families”. It’s worth noting that one very popular and successful greenhouse in Saskatoon is closed on Sunday’s. Given how busy their competitors are, and the seasonal nature of that industry here in the prairies, they are forgoing a significant amount of revenue to do so, because they apparently believe that both the business owners, and their staff should have time for their families.

I have a whole lot more respect for a business and its owner if I walk up to the door on a stat and they are closed with a sign that says “spending Family Day with our families”, that I do for a business who tries to pass off the “I have no choice” line of BS.

Much like credit card merchant fees, choosing to open on a stat is a choice. If your margins are so thin that the wage costs are going to break your business, your business has much, much bigger problems. Your bankruptcy trustee awaits.

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