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Entitlements to public holidays during the holiday season

public holidays

There are a number of upcoming public (statutory or general) holidays that require employers to provide paid days off to employees. Below, we have summarized some the most important obligations with respect to those holidays.

All 14 Canadian jurisdictions recognize Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2019) and New Year’s Day (Wednesday, January 1, 2020) as public holidays.

In addition to the above holidays, Ontario and federally regulated workplaces also recognize Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26, 2019) as a public holiday.

So what are employee’s entitlements regarding the above public holidays?

JurisdictionEntitlementEntitlement if workedQualification
Fed. Reg.Day off with holiday pay. Holiday pay equal to or greater than their daily wages, calculated by taking one twentieth of the wages, excluding overtime pay, that the employee earned during the four weeks before the holiday week.At least 1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked, plus the general holiday pay. The general holiday may be substituted for another day with proper authorization.Worked for an employer for at least 90 calendar days in the 12 calendar months before the public holiday.
ABHoliday falls on a regular day of work, the employee is entitled to a day off with holiday pay. Holiday pay is an amount that is at least their average daily wage. If the holiday falls on a non-regular day of work and an employee doesn’t work, they are not entitled to general holiday pay.If a holiday falls on a regular workday and the employee works, the employee is entitled to general holiday pay of an amount that is equal to: (1) at least their average daily wage and an amount that is at least 1.5 times their wage rate for each hour worked on that day; or (2) the standard wage rate for each hour worked on the holiday and a day off with pay where the pay is at least as much as their average daily wage. If an employee works on a holiday that is not considered a regular workday, then the employee is entitled to general holiday pay of an amount that is equal to at least 1.5 times their wage rate for each hour worked on that day.Must be employed for at least 30 calendar days in the 12 months preceding the holiday. Will not be entitled to holiday pay if the employee does not work on a holiday when required or scheduled to do so, or is absent from employment without the consent of the employer on the workday before or after a holiday.
BCDay off with average day’s pay. An average day’s pay is calculated by dividing the amount paid or payable to the employee for work done during and wages earned within the 30 calendar days before the holiday (including vacation pay) less any overtime pay, by the number of days the employee has worked or earned wage within that 30 day period. This average day’s pay applies whether or not the holiday falls on the employee’s regularly scheduled day off.1.5 times the employee’s hourly rate for the first 12 hours, 2 times the hourly rate after that, plus an average day’s wage.Must be employed for at least 30 calendar days before the holiday, and: (a) has worked or earned wages for 15 of the 30 calendar days preceding the holiday; or (b) has worked under an averaging agreement at any time within that 30 calendar day period.
MBDay off with regular wages. If hours of work or wages vary, general holiday pay is calculated at 5% of the gross wages (not including overtime) in the 4-week period immediately before the holiday.1.5 times the hourly rate for hours worked, plus their general holiday pay.Will not be entitled to holiday pay if the employee does not work on a holiday when required or scheduled to do so, or is absent from employment without the consent of the employer on the workday before or after a holiday.
NBDay off with regular wages, even if they are not scheduled to work on the day the holiday falls. If hours of work vary, a regular day is calculated by taking the amount of hours worked in the last 30 days (not including overtime) and dividing it by the number of days worked.1.5 times the regular wages, plus a regular day’s pay.Must be employed by the employer for at least 90 calendar days during the 12 months before the public holiday. Must have worked his or her scheduled regular day of work before and after the holiday, unless there is a good reason for not doing so. If he or she has agreed to work on the public holiday, report for work and work his or her scheduled shift, unless there is a good reason for not doing so. Must not be employed under an arrangement where he or she can decide when to work or not to work. Not be employed in specific occupations exempted by regulation.
NLDay off with an average day’s pay.2 times the regular rate for hours worked on the holiday or an additional day off with pay within 30 days or an additional vacation day.Worked at least 30 calendar days prior to the paid holiday and works their scheduled shift before and after the paid holiday.
NSDay off with regular day’s pay. If hours of work or wages vary, average hours or wages over the 30-day period immediately before the holiday.1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of wages for the hours worked, plus a regular day’s pay.Must be entitled to receive pay for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday, and have worked on their last scheduled shift or day before the holiday and on the first scheduled shift or day after the holiday.
NTDay off with an average day’s pay.Time + 1/2 plus an average day’s pay. As an alternative, the employer may transfer the holiday to another day, giving the employee a day off with pay.An employee must have worked for the employer for: 30 days within the 12 months prior to the holiday; report to work on their last scheduled workday prior to the holiday and their next scheduled workday following the holiday; report to work on the holiday, if they are scheduled, or called to work. Part-time employees are entitled to statutory holiday pay once they meet the conditions set out above.
NUDay off with regular pay.1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked plus a normal day’s pay, or regular wages plus a another day off work with pay.Employee is disqualified from holiday pay: where the employee has not worked for the same employer for a total of 30 days during the preceding 12 months prior to the holiday; where the employee did not report to work on that day after having been called to work on that day; where, without the consent of his or her employer, the employee has not reported for work on either his or her last regular working day preceding or following the general holiday; where the employee is on pregnancy or parental leave.
ONDay off work with public holiday pay. Public holiday pay is generally calculated by dividing the total amount of regular wages earned and vacation pay earned in the four weeks before the holiday week by 20.1.5 times the employees hourly rate, plus public holiday pay, or regular wages for all hours worked plus a substitute day off with public holiday pay.Employees qualify for the public holiday entitlement unless they: fail without reasonable cause to work all of their last regularly scheduled day of work before the public holiday or all of their first regularly scheduled day of work after the public holiday; or fail without reasonable cause to work their entire shift on the public holiday if they agreed to or were required to work that day. Employees who fail to qualify for the public holiday entitlement are still entitled to be paid premium pay for every hour they work on the holiday.
PEDay off with regular day’s pay. If hours of work change from day to day, or if wages change from pay to pay, the employer could average hours or wages over 30 previous days to calculate what to pay the employee for the holiday.1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of wages for the hours worked, plus a regular day’s pay.Must be employed for/with the same employer for 30 calendar days prior to the holiday. Must have earned pay on at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday. Must have worked his/her last scheduled shift before the holiday and his/her first scheduled shift after the holiday.
QCDay off with holiday pay. Holiday pay for each statutory general holiday must be 1/20 of the wages the employee has earned during the four complete weeks of pay before the week of the holiday, excluding overtime. If a holiday falls on a non-workday or annual leave of an employee, the employer must pay the employee the holiday pay or grant them a compensatory holiday on a date agreed upon between the employer and the employee or fixed by a collective agreement or a decree.Regular wages for hours worked, plus stat holiday entitlement, or regular rate for hours worked, plus an additional day off with pay within three weeks of the holiday.Employee is not entitled to holiday pay if the employee has been absent from work without the employer’s authorization or without valid cause on the working day before or after the holiday.
SKDay off with public holiday pay. Public holiday pay is equal to 5% of their wages earned in the four weeks (28 days) before the public holiday, including vacation pay for holidays taken but not overtime.Public holiday pay, plus a premium of 1.5 times their hourly wage for each hour worked. During a week with a public holiday, employees receive overtime after working 32 hours. The 32 hours does not include any hours worked on the public holiday.An individual must be employed by the employer on the day of the public holiday to get public holiday pay.
YUDay off with regular day’s pay. If paid on a commission or on a piece-work basis, must be paid average daily wage, exclusive of overtime or bonus, earned in the week of the holiday. If irregular hours, must be paid general holiday pay of 10% of the wages (excluding vacation pay) earned for the hours worked in the 2 calendar weeks immediately prior to the week in which the holiday falls. This includes any overtime earned in that period.All hours worked are paid at the applicable overtime rate in addition to the employee’s general holiday pay, or all hours worked are paid at the regular rate, plus an additional day off with pay.Must be employed for 30 calendar days before the holiday. Must work last scheduled shift before the holiday and first scheduled shift after the holiday, unless absence is permitted. Required to work on the holiday if called to work.

Note that provisions regarding public holiday entitlements and payments may apply differently to employers who are party to collective agreements, as well as to employers in specific industry sectors.

Also note that we are entering a very religious season, as well. For example, Hanukkah will begin in the evening of Sunday, December 22 and end in the evening of Monday, December 30.

Religious observances

Under human rights legislation across Canada, employers have a duty to accommodate religious beliefs, observances or creeds (depending on the jurisdiction) to the point of undue hardship.

Employees are not automatically entitled to pay for time taken off because of religious observances or holidays. But, human rights legislation requires, and courts and tribunals have ruled, that employers must have a process in place to fulfill their duty to accommodate religious observances.

The process must include options for employees to arrange for time off for religious observances through scheduling changes, days off without loss of pay, or any other reasonable method.

The employer should develop a policy for responding to employee requests to take time off for religious holidays. The options provided in the policy could include special/compassionate paid leave, scheduling changes, overtime, use of lieu time, compressed workweek arrangements and, if the employer operates on a public holiday, working on a public holiday (subject to the requirements of employment standards legislation). If the workplace or the employee’s individual circumstances are such that the employee cannot make up the time they must miss for religious reasons, other forms of accommodation must be explored.

You can learn more about your obligations to provide public holidays and to accommodate religious holidays in The Human Resources Advisor. Not a subscriber, take a free trial here.

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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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