What Businesses Need to Know – Employment Standards Act – Public Holidays

 Ontario has nine public holidays:

  1. New Year’s Daypublic holidays
  2. Family Day
  3. Good Friday
  4. Victoria Day
  5. Canada Day
  6. Labour Day
  7. Thanksgiving Day
  8. Christmas Day
  9. Boxing Day (December 26)

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 they will be paid:

  • public holiday pay plus premium pay for the hours worked on the public holiday;
  • their regular rate for hours worked on the holiday, plus they will receive another day off (called a “substitute” holiday) with public holiday pay. If the employee has earned a substitute day off with public holiday pay, the public holiday pay calculation is done with respect to the four work weeks before the work week in which the substitute day off falls.

Some employees may be required to work on a public holiday.  While most employees are eligible for the public holiday entitlement, some employees work in jobs that are not covered by the public holiday provisions of the ESA. To determine whether a job is covered, or if special rules apply, please refer to the Special Rule Tool (available at Ontario.ca/ESAtools).

The amount of public holiday pay to which an employee is entitled is all of the regular wages earned by the employee in the four work weeks before the work week with the public holiday plus all of the vacation pay payable to the employee with respect to the four work weeks before the work week with the public holiday, divided by 20.

Regular wages does not include any overtime or premium pay payable to an employee.

While some employers give their employees a holiday on Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, the first Monday in August, or Remembrance Day, the employer is not required to do so under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

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