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Does my employer have to pay me for public holidays?

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 of 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 below.

If the holiday pay rules in the ESA apply to 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. For example, your employer might ask you for a doctor's note.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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

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Click to expand each step for details
Next Steps: 

1. Find out if laws about holiday pay apply to you

Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow. These include rules about holiday pay.

But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And, in some cases, only parts of the ESA apply.

Use the Ministry of Labour's online tool called Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules to find out if your job is covered by the ESA and which parts of the ESA apply.

You can also call the Ministry's Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551, 416-326-7160, or 1-866-567-8893 (TTY).

You may need

2. Figure out your holiday pay

To figure out your holiday pay:

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

You can also figure out your holiday pay using the Ministry of Labour’s online Public Holiday Pay Calculator.

If you work 5 days a week and the same number of hours each day, holiday pay is the same as the wages you normally get for a day's work.

You may need

3. Consider your options if an employer didn't pay you for a public holiday

If an employer didn't pay you what they owed you, you might be able to get the money the employer owes you by making a claim with the Ministry of Labour.

You have up to 2 years to make a claim from the date the employer owed you the wages.

Reviewed: 
June, 2015

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