Statutory Holidays: What Should You Know?

While the celebration of Canada Day may have been a controversial issue this year, that did not change the fact that it remains a statutory holiday.

Statutory holidays, which are public holidays recognized by the federal and provincial governments, are (depending on your industry) paid holidays.

In Ontario, there are nine statutory holidays:

  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)

If you were looking for the civic holiday on that list, which is on the first Monday of August, you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually an optional holiday in Ontario. Provincially regulated employers are not required to give their employees this day off by law – but it is nice when they do!

We find we get a lot of inquiries from clients regarding their obligations when it comes to statutory holidays. For example, “do I need to pay my part time employee for a statutory holiday when they aren’t already scheduled to work that day?”

Part time employees, whether they are permanent or on a term contract, are entitled to statutory holiday pay. This is regardless of whether they would ordinarily work on that day or not.

The only way that an employee would not qualify for statutory holiday pay is if they failed (without providing a reasonable explanation) to work all of their last regularly scheduled day of work before the public holiday, or all of their first regularly scheduled day of work after the public holiday. This is, unsurprisingly, known as the “last and first” rule. 

There are also special rules that apply for employees in certain industries, such as in tourism, hospitality, and health care. An employee who works in any of these industries can be required to work on a public holiday, but only if the holiday falls on a day that the employee would normally work.

Then there’s this whole business of calculating statutory holiday pay – but let’s leave that for another day. For now, I’m going to think about all the things I want to do on my next long weekend.

Robin K. Mann, Associate Lawyer