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Statutory Holidays

What are the statutory holidays in Ontario?

The statutory holidays in Ontario are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and December 26 (Boxing Day).

Although it is not recognized as a statutory holiday in the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the first Monday in August is observed as a civic holiday in many Ontario municipalities.

What are the eligibility requirements to qualify for holiday pay?

Most employees are eligible for holiday pay.  Qualified employees can be full time, part time, permanent or on contract. They can also be students. It does not matter how recently they were hired, or how many days they worked before the public holiday

If an employee fails, without reasonable cause, to work all of his/her last regularly scheduled day of work before the holiday or first regularly scheduled day after the holiday or if the employee was scheduled to work on the holiday and didn't work (without reasonable cause), then he/she is not entitled to holiday pay.

Are there exceptions to the eligibility requirements?

The Act’s minimum employment standards do not apply to students in work experience programs authorized by a school board, community college or university; participants under the Ontario Works Act, 1997; inmates participating in rehabilitation programs; offenders performing court-ordered community service; individuals performing work in a simulated job or working environment for the purpose of rehabilitation; holders of political, religious or judicial office or of an elected office in an organization such as a trade union; members of a quasi-judicial tribunal; police officers; and directors of a corporation. The following are also exempted from the public holiday provisions of the Act: crown employees; qualified practitioners and students of designated professions; teachers; persons employed in commercial fishing; certain salespersons and brokers; persons whose employment is related to the primary production of specific farm products or to other horticultural pursuits; firefighters; fishing or hunting guides; landscape gardeners; persons installing and maintaining swimming pools; students instructing or supervising children, or working in children’s camps or recreational programs under a charitable organization; resident superintendents, janitors or caretakers of a residential building; taxi cab drivers; seasonal employees in a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant or tavern who are provided with room and board; and construction employees who receive 7.3 % or more of their hourly rate of wages for vacation pay or holiday pay.

How much should I get paid if I work on a statutory holiday?

Most employees who qualify are entitled to take these days off work and be paid public holiday pay. Alternatively, they can agree in writing to work on the holiday and be paid:

  • public holiday pay plus premium pay (1½ times the employee’s regular rate) for the hours worked on the public holiday
    or
  • their regular rate for hours worked on the holiday, plus they will receive another day off (called a "substitute" holiday) with public holiday pay

Work on holiday is not overtime – Hours worked on a public holiday for which an employee receives premium pay are not to be taken into consideration when calculating entitlement to overtime pay.

Special conditions for certain employees – When an employee employed in a continuous operation, a hotel, a motel, a tourist resort, a restaurant, a tavern or a hospital is required to work on a public holiday that occurs on a day that is ordinarily his/her working day, his/her employer can decide how the employee will be compensated (i.e., either regular rate plus substitute day off, or holiday pay plus premium pay).

Special conditions for fruit, vegetable and tobacco harvesters – Employees who are employed on a farm to harvest fruits, vegetables or tobacco for marketing or storage are covered by the Act’s public holidays provisions if they have been employed by an employer for at least 13 weeks, unless they can elect to work or not when requested to do so. These employees are considered to be working in a continuous operation.

Employees with two kinds of work – An employee whose duties require him or her to perform two kinds of work, one of which is covered by the Act’s public holiday provisions and one of which is excluded, remains eligible for a paid public holiday, as long as the latter kind of work does not constitute more than half the time spent fulfilling duties in that work week.

How much is public holiday pay?

Public holiday pay to which an employee is all of your regular wages (including payable vacation pay) earned in the 4 work weeks before the work week with the public holiday divided by 20.

Can I substitute my holiday pay for another day off?

A substitute holiday is another working day off work that is designated to replace a public holiday. Employees are entitled to be paid public holiday pay for a substitute holiday.  A substitute holiday must be scheduled for a day that is no later than three months after the public holiday for which it was earned. If you agree in writing, the substitute day off can be scheduled up to 12 months after the public holiday.

How much should I get paid if I don’t work on a statutory holiday?

An eligible employee must be given public holiday pay equal to the total amount of regular wages and vacation pay payable in the four work weeks preceding the work week on which the public holiday falls, divided by 20.

What if a statutory holiday falls on a non-working day?

If a holiday falls on a day that is not ordinarily a working day for the employee or during a vacation, his/her employer must either (a) provide another day off with public holiday pay, not later than three months after the public holiday, or no later than 12 months with the employee’s consent; or (b) if the employer and employee agree, pay public holiday for the day.

Am I required to work on a statutory holiday?

Except for persons employed in a hospital, a continuous operation, or a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant or tavern, an employer cannot require an employee to work on a public holiday that falls on a day that would normally be a working day. No employee may be required to work on a public holiday that falls on what is ordinarily his/her non-working day.

Employees who work in retail business establishments, with some exceptions (e.g. businesses that sell prepared meals, rent living accommodations, are open to the public for educational, recreational or amusement purposes), have an explicit right to refuse to work on a public holiday. An employee who has accepted to work on a public holiday may then refuse such an assignment by giving at least 48 hours’ notice to the employer.

What if I’m a unionized employee covered by a collective agreement?

The provisions of an employment contract, including a collective agreement, prevail if they provide a greater benefit to an employee than the employment standard.

For more information, please see the Ontario Holiday Pay Factsheet.

How do I make a complaint about my work situation?

Learn more about making a complaint in your jurisdiction

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