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New Protection for Retail Workers (NS)

Changes to the Labour Standards Code proclaimed on July 19 mean retail workers in some sectors will be protected from having to work on uniform closing days.

One effect is that grocers operating a retail sales area greater than 4,000 square feet must offer their employees the right to refuse to work on Sundays and holidays.

This includes related grocery businesses operating in same building or in close proximity.

The new rules, which take effect today, also provide exemptions for classes of business similar to those contained in the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.

Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent said the amendments will protect retail workers who historically have not had to work on those days.

"This fulfils the commitment announced July 10," Mr. Parent said. "Employees covered by the changes who believe they have been fired or otherwise punished for refusing to work on a uniform closing day can now complain to our Labour Standards Division.

"The division strives to help employers and employees resolve disputes, but also has the power to order restitution or reinstatement."

Uniform closing days are defined in the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act as Sundays, Boxing Day, Canada Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday, Labour Day, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving Day.

Retail employees have the right to refuse to work on those days unless their employers are exempted by Labour Standards Code regulations.

An employee previously scheduled to work on a uniform closing day must give the employer seven days' notice of a decision to refuse.

Employees who feel their right to refuse work on uniform closing days is not being respected can contact the labour standards division of the Department of Environment and Labour at 424-4311, or toll-free at 888-315-0110.

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