Holidays: Who Works & What Do They Get Paid


Throughout the calendar year, Ontario has several different types of holidays; statutory, public, civic, commemorative and celebrative. While only some of these holidays entitle employees to a paid day off, the pay rate for said holidays can vary. Let’s explore some of the different types of holidays and who is entitled to paid holidays verses unpaid holidays.

Statutory Holidays

A statutory holiday, also known as a public holiday, is any of the 8 days that the Ontario government deems as set paid days off for all federally regulated employees. In Ontario, our statutory holidays include New Year’s Day, Family Day (Ontario), Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Basically, each of these days allows an employee a day off, with pay calculated from their previous earnings. However, these rules and pay rates change depending upon whether those effected are in provincially regulated jobs, are part-time employees or those working in private sectors.

If a statutory holiday falls on a weekend, when an employee would already be off work, they must be given a day off in compensation. Traditionally, if the holiday falls on a Saturday, the Friday before will act as the holiday, as will Monday if the holiday lands on a Sunday.

Federally regulated employees have a set equation to calculate their earnings for a statutory holiday. Basically, an employer will calculate the total earnings an employee has made in the last 4 weeks of work. This total will then be divided by 20 to give an average daily earning. This amount, plus vacation if applicable, will be the rate of pay that employee will receive for a statutory holiday.

As for employees who do not fall into the category of federally regulated employment, their statutory rules and earnings are a little different. These employees may be required to work as they are not entitled to a holiday, however they are entitled to extra wage compensation. Typically, those required to work on a statutory holiday receive 1.5 times their regular wages. However, after the first 12 hours, they are entitled to wages of double time and a half until the end of their shift.

Civic Holidays

While a civic holiday is similar to a statutory holiday at first glance, there are some major differences when it comes to who is entitled to a day off and who isn’t. In Ontario, our civic holiday is the first Monday in August, often referred to as the “August long weekend”. This holiday, while leaving most regulated businesses closed, is not technically a statutory holiday. This means that many grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. remain open, although office buildings, banks, and liquor stores will not. Depending on your location, this civic holiday goes by several different names and a variety of local appellations. When it comes to civic holidays, while not all employees are entitled to a guaranteed day off, those who do work are still entitled to their regular pay rate for the day.

Commemoration & Celebration Days

Interestingly enough, there have been several attempts to turn other holidays into statutory and civic holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Terry Fox Day and Remembrance Day. However, while these days are cause for celebration and commemoration, they are not classified as actually holidays in the employment world.

If you have any questions in regards to how to calculate holiday pay or want to better understand what the regulations are for your employees for each civic and statutory holiday, feel free to give us a call at 705-728-6469. We are always happy to help you better understand the financial obligations to your business as well as your obligations to employees.

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