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Does my employer have to pay me for public holidays?

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Does my employer have to pay me for public holidays?
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Ministry of Labour

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Does my employer have to pay me for public holidays?
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Reviewed: 
July 3, 2018
Answer

In most jobs, you have the right to get the day off with holiday pay.

In Ontario, there are 9 public holidays each year. Some people call these "stat holidays".

New Year’s Day

January 1

Family Day

third Monday in February

Good Friday

Friday before Easter Sunday (falls either in March or April)

Victoria Day

Monday before May 25

Canada Day

July 1

Labour Day

first Monday in September

Thanksgiving Day

second Monday in October

Christmas Day

December 25

Boxing Day

December 26

Who can get holiday pay

Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has rules about holiday pay. See Step 1.

If the holiday pay rules in the ESA cover your job, they apply:

  • if you work full-time or part-time
  • no matter how long you've worked in the job
  • whether or not the public holiday falls on a day that you'd usually work

"Last and first" rule

To get holiday pay you must work your last scheduled work day before the holiday and your first scheduled work day after the holiday, unless you couldn't work for a reason that was beyond your control. For example, being sick or injured might be a good enough reason.

Your employer can ask you to show why you missed work. But if you were taking personal emergency leave they have to follow the rules about what they can ask for. For example, they can’t ask for a medical note from a doctor, registered nurse, or psychologist.

Agreeing to work on a public holiday

If your employer asks, you can agree in writing to work on a holiday and get paid in either of these ways:

  • You can get holiday pay plus premium pay. Premium pay is 1½ times your regular rate of pay.
  • You can get your regular pay and another day off with holiday pay. 

But even if you have an agreement, you will get only premium pay for working on a holiday if you do not meet the "last and first" rule, explained above.

Having to work on a public holiday

If you have to work on the holiday because of the kind of job you have, your employer decides if:

  • You get holiday pay plus premium pay. Premium pay is 1½ times your regular wages.
  • You get your regular pay and another day off with holiday pay. 

For example, if the job you have is in a restaurant or a hospital, you might have to work on a public holiday.

Getting another day off

If you work on a public holiday and get another day off, you have to get the other day off within 3 months of the holiday. Or, you can agree in writing to take the day off within 12 months of the holiday.

Before the public holiday, your employer has to tell you in writing:

  • the public holiday that you’re working
  • the date you get a day off because you’re working on the holiday
  • the date your employer is giving you this information in writing

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