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How to pay your employees for a Public Holiday in Ontario

Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA,) there are nine public holidays that most employees are entitled to be off work with pay.

  1. New Year's Day
  2. Family Day
  3. Good Friday
  4. Victoria Day
  5. Canada Day
  6. Labour Day
  7. Thanksgiving Day
  8. Christmas Day
  9. Boxing Day (December 26)

 

How does my employee qualify for Public Holiday Pay?

To qualify, an employee must work their last regularly scheduled day before and first regularly scheduled day after the public holiday, or have reasonable cause for failing to do so. Please note, the last and first shift do not have to be the days right before and right after the holiday.

Some jobs are exempt from Public Holiday Pay. To see if this exemption applies to you, please see the Special Rule Tool for details.

Note: most employees who fail to qualify for the public holiday entitlement are still entitled to be paid premium pay for every hour they work on the holiday.

Does my employee need to pass their probation in order to qualify for Public Holiday pay?

No. The entitlement to public holidays begins as soon as an employee starts working. Qualified employees can be full-time, part-time, permanent or on contract. It does not matter how recently they were hired, or how many days they worked before the public holiday.

What if my employee did not show up to their scheduled shift?

An employee is generally considered to have "reasonable cause" for missing work when something beyond their control prevents the employee from working. It is their responsibility to prove they had reasonable cause for not working their scheduled shift. If they can do so, they qualify for public holiday entitlements.

If the employee and employer agreed in writing to work on the holiday, the employee can choose between:

  • Public holiday pay plus premium pay (time and a half) for all hours worked on the public holiday; or,
  • Regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday and receive another substitute holiday for which they must be paid public holiday pay.

How do I calculate my employees Public Holiday pay?

Public Holiday Pay is based on the regular wages the employee earned and any vacation pay that was payable in the four work weeks prior to the work week in which the public fell, divided by 20.

When calculating Public Holiday Pay, you must take into consideration:

  • if your employee is working on the Public Holiday
  • if your employee choose to accrue their Vacation Pay or if vacation pay is included in every paycheck
  • If your employee is on vacation when the Public Holiday occurs
  • If your employee is on a leave when the Public Holiday occurs

To help you calculate the public holiday pay, use the Public Holiday Calculator on the Ministry of Labour’s website.

If the employee is off work and vacation pay is accrued:

John’s regular wages are calculated:

  • $100 per day X 5 days = $500 per week
  • $500 per week X 4 work weeks = $2,000

 

No vacation pay is included in the calculation because John accrues his vacation pay and he was not on vacation when the public holiday occurred.

John’s total wages earned are divided by 20

  • $2,000 / 20 = $100

 

John’s vacation pay is $100.

If the employee is off work and vacation pay is included in every paycheck:

John’s regular wages are calculated:

  • $100 per day X 5 days = $500 per week
  • $500 per week X 4 work weeks = $2,000

 

John and his employer agreed in writing to receive 4% vacation pay on each paycheck, the amount of vacation pay payable is calculated:

$2,000 X 4% = $80

Add John’s regular wages and his payable vacation pay, then divide by 20:

  • $2,000 + $80 = $2,080
  • $2,080 / 20 = $104

 

John’s vacation pay is $104

If the employee is on vacation when the public holiday occurs and accrue their vacation pay:

John regular wages are determined:

  • $100 per day X 10 days = $1,000

 

John vacation pay is determined:

  • $1,000

 

Combine his regular wages and vacation pay, then divide by 20:

  • $2,000 / 20 = $100

 

John’s vacation pay is $100

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Labour website.