Charlottetown storm

Storms in December caused some businesses in Charlottetown to close for as many as seven days, hurting both the businesses and the workers. (CBC)

Retail and service workers on P.E.I. hoping to make money with extra shifts in the lead up to Christmas were disappointed this year as storms shut down businesses.

Some businesses on P.E.I. had to close seven days because of poor weather in December. That was hard on the businesses, which look forward to a Christmas shopping boost, and on employees as well, who received no pay on those days the businesses were closed.

"It's too bad that we can't be compensated for snow days," said Bethany Koughan, who works at a retail store in Charlottetown.

"Maybe with some government jobs you get paid anyway if you don't go in, but if you're making minimum wage and the storm or weather prevents you from going in, then you're not getting paid. And that's, yeah, it's definitely a concern for me and my coworkers."

Most retail and service workers don't get paid for snow days.

Erin McGrath-Gaudet, spokeswoman for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, acknowledges it is a problem for workers, but added it is unreasonable to expect employers to pay workers when the business can't open.

"If you've got no money coming in the door it's really hard to then have money going out the door," said McGrath-Gaudet.

"For certain businesses, absolutely, they can make it work and they do pay for storm days. But for a lot of businesses, particularly those that are service oriented, if you don't have money coming in the door that day you, frankly, just can't afford to pay your staff that day."

McGrath-Gaudet said most years, loss of income on snow days isn't an issue, but the recent rash of storms has some of her members concerned.

There is no mention of or reference to businesses closures for bad weather in the P.E.I. Labour Act.

For mobile device users: What should be done about retail and service workers losing pay on storm days?