Public Holiday Pay: What You Need to Know

Read on to get answers to some of the most common questions about holiday pay in Ontario.

What are the statutory holidays in Ontario?

In Ontario, there are 9 public statutory holidays for which employees are entitled to take off work and be paid.

  • New Years Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day; and
  • Boxing Day.

Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, the first Monday in August and Remembrance Day are not public holidays.

Can employers force employees to work on statutory holidays?

Sometime yes and sometime no.

In most industries, employers cannot require employees to work on statutory holidays; however, if an employee agrees in writing – paper or electronic – then they may work but are entitled to either:

  1. Pay for that public holiday plus premium pay for all hours worked on that day; or,
  2. Regular wages for all hours worked on the holiday plus another substitute holiday off for which they are to be paid.

The employee gets to choose which of the above options they’d prefer. If they choose option 2, the employer must get the employees decision in writing.

If the business is “a hospital, a continuous operation, or a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant or tavern”, then an employee may be required to work on public holiday if:

  1. That holiday would otherwise be ordinarily a working day; and
  2. That employee is not on a scheduled vacation;

If an employer requires the employee to work, then that employee is entitled to either:

  1. Pay for that public holiday plus premium pay for all hours worked on that day; or;
  2. Regular wages for all hours worked on the holiday plus another substitute holiday off for which they are to be paid.

In these circumstances, the employer gets to choose which of the above options they’d prefer.

How much is Premium Pay?

Premium pay must be at least 1.5 times an employees regular rate of pay.

How do Substitute Public Holidays Work?

If an employer is providing a substitute holiday to an employee, the employer must provide to the employee written notice that sets out:

  1. The public holiday which the employee is going to work;
  2. The date of the day that is substituted for the public holiday; and
  3. The date written notice is provided to the employee.

The substituted day must be no more than three months after the public holiday, unless the employee and employer agree in writing, then it must be no more than 12 months after the public holiday.

How to Calculate Statutory Holiday Pay?

An employee’s public holiday pay for any given public holiday is equal to the total amount of regular wages earned in the pay period immediately preceding the public holiday divided by the number of days the employee worked in that period.

Holiday Pay = Regular Wages / Days Worked

Note:

  • Regular wages does not include any overtime pay, vacation pay, public holiday pay, premium pay, personal emergency leave pay, domestic or sexual violence leave pay, termination pay, severance pay or termination of assignment pay payable to an employee.
  • If the employee was on leave or on vacation or both for the entire pay period before the public holiday, the regular wages earned by the employee in the pay period before the start of that leave or vacation, divided by the number of days the employee worked in that period is used to calculate the public holiday pay.
  • If the employee was not employed during the pay period before the public holiday, the public holiday pay is calculated using the regular wages earned by the employee in the pay period that includes the public holiday, divided by the number of days the employee worked in that period.[1]
Examples:

Freddie Full Time

Patrick Part Time

Olivia Occasional

  Freddie, Patrick and Olivia work for the same company. There is a two-week (or 10-business day) pay period and they each earn $20.00 Hour. In the pay period prior to the public holiday:

  • Freddie worked every day, 7.5  hours a day.
  • Patrick worked every afternoon except Fridays for 5 hours.
  • Olivia worked three 7.5 hour days.
Freddie’s Regular Wages = 10 days * 7.5 Hours * $20.00 per hour = $1,500 Patrick’s Regular Wages = 8 days * 5 Hours * $20.00 per hour = $800 Olivia’s Regular Wages = 3 days * 7.5 Hours * $20.00 per hour = $ 450
Holiday Pay = Regular Wages / Days Worked

= $1,500 / 10

Holiday Pay = $150.00

Holiday Pay = Regular Wages / Days Worked

= $800 / 8

Holiday Pay = $100.00

Holiday Pay = Regular Wages / Days Worked

= $450 / 3

Holiday Pay = $150.00

Yes, the above calculation is correct, Olivia who earned just over half of what Patrick earned in the previous pay period is entitled to more public holiday pay. You may be a little shocked and in fact there has been some controversy as a result. Nevertheless, as of today (Feb 2018), this is how public holiday pay is calculated in Ontario.

Anything else I might want to know?

Overtime – If an employee reviewed premium pay for work on a statutory holiday, then the hours worked do not count towards overtime.

Termination/Resignation  – If employment ends before the employee receives the substituted public holiday, then that employee is entitled to public holiday pay for that day.


Contact Justin W. Anisman

Contact Justin W. Anisman, the author of this blog, about any employment law related questions or issues you may be facing. Call 416-304-7005 or email him at janisman@btzlaw.ca.

Justin W. Anisman is an Employment Lawyer at the Toronto law firm Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP. Justin advises both companies and individuals in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal, human rights and discrimination.


The publications made on this website are provided and intended for general introductory information purposes only. They do not constitute legal or other professional advice, or an opinion of any kind. Speak to a professional before making decisions about your own particular circumstances.

 

[1] Ontario Ministry of Labour, Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act – Public Holidays (Online: Ontario.ca; Feb 2018);

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