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Closing your business for the holidays

holidaysThe holidays are quickly approaching. However, leading to that point of unwinding can be stressful for many business owners, with the balancing of family demands and workplace year–end pressures. Regardless of such amounting pressures, businesses should not neglect their responsibilities to employees and clients before closing for the holidays.

The following are a few points businesses should take into consideration prior to closing their doors.

Notify your staff, clients and vendors of the dates you will be closed. If you are open for business or giving everyone time off between Christmas and New Year’s, ensure that they are aware. If your business is not closed completely, ensure clients and vendors have the contact information of staff who will be available.

Be aware of your responsibilities to employees under Employment/Labour standards legislation. The following are public (statutory) holidays that employers should be aware of for the 2016-17 holiday season:

  • Sunday, December 25, 2016, Christmas Day, public holiday across Canada
  • Monday, December 26, 2015, Boxing Day, public holiday in Ontario and federally-regulated workplaces
  • Sunday, January 1, 2016, New Year’s Day, public holiday across Canada
  • Monday, January 2, 2016 (the day after New Year’s Day), Bank Holiday, public holiday for many banks and government offices in Quebec

As you may have noticed, this year Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on non–working days for many employees. When a public holiday falls on a non–working day, under Employment/Labour Standards legislation, the general rule is that an employer must provide a substituted day off (which is another working day off designated to replace a public holiday). Depending on the province or territory of employment, employees are entitled to be paid public holiday pay or regular pay for a substituted holiday. For more in-depth information on your responsibilities to employees under Employment/Labour standards legislation when it comes to time off during the holidays, see our recent blog post “Public holiday reminders for the 2016-17 holiday season“.

Ensure all deadlines are met. Determine whether certain projects must be completed before closing or whether they can be addressed upon the staffs’ return from the holidays.

Make a year–end payroll checklist. Checking items off this list can save money wasted due to costly compliance fines for issues such as CPP, EI, and income tax deductions in the year ahead. Want to avoid year–end stress in December? See this 10-step checklist for your year–end payroll requirements.

Monitor delivery schedules leading up to office closure. Remember, not all businesses will be closed at the same time as yours. That said, contact any delivery service providers to notify them when you will be closed, if you are expecting a delivery during that time.

Change voicemail greetings. Employees should be recording a “closed for the holidays” message. The message should include a return to the office date and what callers should do if they require immediate assistance while the office is closed.

Shut off office equipment. This can help save both money and energy. Some examples include, overhead lights, copiers, shredders, monitors, etc. However, it is important that office communication equipment is not turned off (i.e. servers and backup systems, fax machines, phone system, etc.)

Clear the fridge. This mundane task can save employees, and managers alike, the anguish of smelling someones week old lunch upon their return from the holidays.

It is also crucial for employers to be aware that employees may celebrate a range of religious and non-religious holidays during this time. It is important that employers consider, and are sensitive to, the the diverse religious beliefs of their employees. For a list of possible holidays that employees may celebrate, consult the “Calendar” section of HRinfodesk. Not a subscriber? Click here for a free trial.

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Cristina Lavecchia, Editor

Cristina is an editor and researcher at First Reference. She is a licensed paralegal and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, Political Science major at York University. During Cristina's paralegal and undergraduate studies she studied employment standards, occupational health and safety, and workplace safety and insurance. Read more
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