Ontario has nine statutory holidays each calendar year.
Statutory holidays are also known as public holidays or stat days, although they are all the same thing.
As per Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, the following holidays are official statutory holidays in Ontario, in order:
|New Year’s Day||January 1|
|Family Day||The Third Monday in February|
|Good Friday||The Friday before Easter Sunday|
|Victoria Day||The Monday before May 25|
|Canada Day||July 1|
|Labour Day||The first Monday in September|
|Thanksgiving Day||The second Monday in October|
|Christmas Day||December 25|
|Boxing Day||December 26|
Interestingly, Ontario is the only province where Boxing Day is a statutory holiday. Also, contrary to popular belief, the so-called Civic Holiday on the first Monday in August is not actually a statutory holiday in Ontario.
Do employees get paid for statutory holidays even if they do not work?
Yes, employees get paid public holiday pay for statutory holidays even if they do not work. It would not be a holiday if people were not paid because many people would have no choice but to work the holiday.
If a public holiday falls on a day that an employee doesn’t usually work or if they are on vacation, they get another day off with public holiday pay. To be clear, statutory holiday days are in addition to vacation time.
How does an employee qualify for statutory holiday pay?
All employees in Ontario are entitled to statutory holiday pay. There is no minimum amount of time worked to qualify. However, employees can lose their entitlement to public holiday pay if they fail to work (without excsuse) all of their last regularly scheduled working day before the holiday or all of their first regularly scheduled working day after the holiday.
How to calculate public holiday pay in Ontario?
The amount of public holiday pay to which an employee is entitled is calculated as follows:
All of the 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 concerning the four work weeks before the work week with the public holiday divided by 20. The Ontario Ministry of Labour has a public holiday pay calculator.
Can employers force an employee to work on a statutory holiday?
No, normally employers cannot force an employee to work a statutory holiday. However, special rules apply to employees who work for the following types of employers:
- hotels, motels and tourist resorts;
- restaurants and taverns;
- hospitals and nursing homes;
- continuous operations (which are operations, or parts of operations, that do not stop or close
An employee who works for these above-noted employers can be forced to work on a public holiday if the holiday falls on a day that the employee would normally work and the employee is not on vacation.
Nevertheless, if an employee is required to work on a statutory holiday, he or she is entitled to either:
- his or her regular rate for hours worked on the public holiday, plus a substitute day off work with public holiday pay; or
- public holiday pay plus premium pay for each hour worked.
For all other employees, an employer cannot force an employee to work on statutory holidays.
What is premium pay in Ontario?
Premium pay is the extra wages an employee in Ontario gets for working a statutory holiday.
How to calculate premium pay in Ontario
Premium pay is 1½ times an employee’s regular rate of pay for each hour worked.
Can employees choose to work statutory holidays?
Yes. While most employees in Ontario are entitled to take statutory holidays days off work, they can agree in writing to work statutory holidays if they wish.
If an employee agrees in writing to work on a statutory holiday, he or she must be paid public holiday pay and premium pay or another day off with pay.
In summary, an employee who works a statutory holiday could be entitled to:
- the employee is entitled to receive regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday, plus a substitute day off work with public holiday pay; or
- if the employee agrees in writing, he or she is entitled to public holiday pay for the public holiday plus premium pay for all hours worked on the public holiday. In this case, the employee will not be given a substitute day off.
Jeff is an employment lawyer in Toronto. He is the Principal of the Dutton Employment Law Group at Monkhouse Law. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles.