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The real cost of Family Day

B.C.'s first ever Family Day holiday is Feb. 11.

What does Family Day really cost? The Conference Board of Canada attempts to answer this question now that the statutory holiday is celebrated in a handful of Canadian provinces.

On the one hand it's costly for employers. After crunching the numbers, the board found paying for the holiday costs employers roughly $206 per full-time worker and $62 per part-time worker. This adds up to as much as $3.3 billion in wages, according to Karla Thorpe, director of leadership and human resources research at the Conference Board of Canada.

The board estimates that a national statutory holiday can potentially cost the country about $6.9 billion in lost productivity, though the true cost of Family Day will be lower since it is not recognized in all provinces and does not apply to federal workers, Thorpe writes.

But it is really "lost productivity"?

Even if costly by the numbers and employers, the flip side is that Family Day is a welcome break for workers -- even those without kids and playdates to plan -- between the new year and Easter holiday.

Just look at your Facebook posts and pay special attention to the small talk on school grounds and grocery store line ups. People seem to genuinely cherish the time off with family and friends. And, let's face it, everyone enjoys a day off.

(Still, just think how many people are guilty of working on "Family Day". Thorpe points out a 2011 analysis by the board showed that 1 in 10 Canadians bring their BlackBerry with them on vacation and almost 1 in 4 check work-related e-mail or phone messages while away from work.)

"Over the years, many research studies have shown that people are actually more productive, in terms of the amount and quality of output, when they get regular time off work to relax and recharge," Thorpe writes.

"Skipping lunch and burning the midnight oil isn’t productive either. People need adequate amounts of sleep and breaks during the day to function at their best."

Most people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island had the day off for Family Day. British Columbia had its first ever Family Day earlier this month.

What did you do on Family Day?