What are the official public holidays in Ontario?
The province of Ontario has nine public holidays that most employees are entitled to:
- New Year's Day (January 1)
- Family Day (February 18)
- Good Friday
- Victoria Day (May 20)
- Canada Day (July 1)
- Labour Day (first Monday in September)
- Thanksgiving Day (second Monday in October)
- Christmas Day (December 25)
- Boxing Day (December 26)
How does an employee qualify for Public Holiday Pay?
To collect public holiday pay, employees must have worked their last regularly scheduled day/shift before the holiday and their first regularly scheduled day/shift after the holiday.
From the Ministry of Labour:
"For example, an employee might not be scheduled to work the day right before or after the holiday. As long as the employee works all of their last regularly scheduled shift before the holiday and all of the first one after it, or has reasonable cause for not working either of those days, they meet this qualifying criterion.
An employee is generally considered to have “reasonable cause” for missing work when something beyond their control prevents the employee from working. Employees are responsible for showing that they had reasonable cause for staying away from work. If they can do so, they still qualify for public holiday entitlements."
What is the public holiday formula?
In order to calculate your employees' public holiday pay; take the regular wages over the last four weeks before the holiday and divide by 20.
What if I require my employee to work on a holiday?
Your employee can agree electronically or in writing to work on the holiday and be paid:
- their regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday and receive another substitute holiday for which they must be paid public holiday pay. Regular wages does not include overtime pay, termination pay, severance and premium pay, termination of assignment pay (for temporary help agency employees) personal emergency leave pay, domestic or sexual violence leave pay or pay for other holidays.
- public holiday pay plus premium pay for all hours worked on the public holiday and not receive another day off (called a “substitute” holiday)
What if my employee does not work on a day a public holiday falls on?
A public holiday may fall on a day your employee is not scheduled to work, these holidays must be given on a substitute week day.
Your employee is entitled to:
- a substitute holiday off with public holiday pay;
- public holiday pay for the public holiday, if the employee agrees to this electronically or in writing (in this case, the employee will not be given a substitute day off).
- Your employee is entitled to a substitute holiday within three months after the public holiday unless the employee agrees electronically or in writing, that the substitute day off is scheduled up to 12 months after the public holiday.
- If an employee receives a substitute holiday, you must: inform the employee before the holiday by a written statement that contains the public holiday that is being substituted, the date of the substitute holiday, and the date that the statement given to the employee.
Is vacation pay used when calculating public holiday pay?
Yes, if vacation pay was received by the employee in the four work weeks prior to the public holiday, it is used to calculate public holiday pay. This may include paid vacation time or 4-6% vacation pay on every cheque or vacation pay in either a portion or a lump sum.
The Ministry of Labour offers a public holiday pay calculator for your convenience
Am I required to close my business for Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday is not a public holiday but under the Retail Business Holidays Act all businesses are required to be closed. Please get in touch with a Business Counsellor to determine if there are any exemptions in your municipality.
Am I required to close my business for Civic Holiday/Simcoe Day
Civic Day/Simcoe Day- (first Monday in August) is not a Public Holiday under Employment Standards legislation or under the Business Retail Holidays Act; but Canada Post, libraries, government ministries and some businesses do close on that day.
If you have previously honoured Simcoe day as a public holiday, and are looking to stop, please get in touch with a Business Counsellor who can walk you through the necessary steps at 1-888-234-2232.
Other useful information: