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Christmas 2011 and New Year’s Day 2012: how will you substitute these public holidays?

I can’t believe the year 2011 is coming to an end and the holiday season is so near. Have you thought about how your organization will treat the public holidays around the end of the year? This year, Christmas, December 25, 2011, and New Year’s Day, January 1, 2012, fall on Sundays. The public holiday of Boxing Day, December 26, 2011, applies in Ontario and federally regulated workplaces only, and falls on a Monday.

In general, most organizations will substitute the public holiday on the next business day after the holiday, i.e., December 27, 2011, and January 2, 2012. While in jurisdictions with Boxing Day as a public holiday, certain organizations will use the Fridays of December 23 and December 30 as substitute days off for Christmas and New Year’s Day. But based on past polls and practices, most organizations will use Tuesday December 27 as a substitute day off for Christmas, and January 2, as a substitute day off for New Year’s Day.

But what does the law say?

In general, under Employment Standards legislation, when public (statutory) holidays fall on non-working days, the employer must provide a substituted day off, which is another working day designated to replace a public holiday. If employees work on holidays, they are entitled to be paid public holiday pay or regular pay for a substituted holiday depending on the province or territory of employment. However, many jurisdictions have public holiday provisions different from this general rule.

For specific information on how to apply public holidays on a non-working day to a particular province or territory of employment, I recommend you read, “How to apply public (statutory) holidays on a non-working day” on HRinfodesk (it’s free), which sets out the minimum requirements and variations by jurisdiction that employers must follow under employment standards legislation regarding public holidays that fall on non-working days.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Inc. Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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