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Your rights at work

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What are the rules about public holidays?

In most jobs, you have the right to get public holidays off work with holiday pay. If the ESA rules about public holidays cover your job, they apply:

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

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

If a public holiday falls on a day that you do not usually work or when you are on vacation, you get another day off with holiday pay.

For example, if you work Monday to Friday and July 1 is on a Saturday, your employer can decide that you will get Monday, July 3 off with holiday pay.

Or, if you agree in writing, you can get holiday pay for the public holiday. In that case, you do not get another day off.

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

Holiday pay

To get holiday pay, you must meet the "last and first" rule. This rule says that you must work your regular work day, before and after the holiday, unless you had "reasonable cause" not to work. Examples of reasonable cause include illness or injury.

To figure out your holiday pay:

  • add up your regular wages plus vacation pay for the 4 work weeks before the work week with the holiday in it
  • divide that total by 20

Working on a public holiday

Some people have to work on public holidays. For example, you might have to work on a public holiday if you work in one of the following:

  • a hotel, motel, or tourist resort
  • a hospital or nursing home
  • a business that stays open for 24 hours each day over a period of 7 days

And if you do not have to work, 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.

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.