In Canada, workers are entitled to statutory holidays. However, which vacation days in particular workers get depends on which province or territory the employee is in, and whether their employment is federally governed.
Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Father’s Day, and Halloween, for example, are celebrated nationwide, but they are not official holidays, thus no paid vacation is given for these days. There are different regulations pertaining to federal employees, provincially regulated employees, part-time workers, and workers in the private sector.
A new federal statutory holiday was added in 2021 for September 30 called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day is held to recognize the atrocities of residential schools and fulfills one of the many recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Paid Holidays Recognized by the BC Public Service
New Year’s Day
Easter Monday (federally regulated workplaces only)
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (federally regulated workplaces only)
Boxing Day (not an official statutory holiday)
If a holiday is designated for federally regulated workplaces only, such as banks and post offices, non-federal employees will not necessarily have a paid day off work. Non-federal employees may take the day off of work if their non-federal employer chooses to recognize the holiday and pay their employees.
If a holiday falls on a non-work day, another day will be observed as the holiday, typically the preceding Friday or the following Monday. The Employment Standards Act allows the employer to decide which day will be observed as a holiday. Canada Day is often observed on July 1st, however, if July 1st falls on a Sunday, then the following Monday will be the day taken as the holiday. If July 1st were to fall on a Saturday, then the preceding Friday would typically be the day off.
On national statutory holidays in Canada, also called public holidays, all federal offices, including banks, are closed. Most employees are entitled by law to take the day off from work and receive their full salary for the day, however, some businesses and essential care workers require employees to work on statutory holidays. Where a worker is required to work on a statutory holiday, the worker must be compensated financially. Typical statutory holiday pay is 1.5 or 2 times the worker’s regular wage. In some cases, the worker is also given another day off.
Eligibility and Wages
To be eligible for statutory holiday pay, an employee must have been employed for 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday and worked or earned wages on 15 of the 30 days before the statutory holiday.
Employees who work under an averaging agreement or a variance at any time in the 30 days before the holiday do not have to meet the 15-day requirement.
When an eligible employee is given a day off on a statutory holiday they are entitled to be paid an average day’s pay. When an eligible employee works on a statutory holiday, they are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for the first 12 hours worked and double-time for any work over 12 hours plus an average day’s pay.
An employee who is not eligible for statutory holiday pay is not entitled to be paid an average day’s pay. An ineligible employee who works on a statutory holiday may be paid as if it were a regular workday.
Part-time employees are entitled to a day off work with pay on statutory holidays. Instead of being paid for a full seven-hour day, they receive a prorated amount based on the number of hours worked prior to the holiday.
Eligible auxiliary employees may receive pro-rated statutory holiday pay based upon the hours worked in the 30 days prior to the holiday. To be eligible for statutory holiday pay, auxiliary and statutory term employees must have worked:
The day before and the day after the holiday, or
Fifteen of the 30 days prior to the holiday, or
At least 105 hours in the 30 days previous to the holiday
Some employees do not receive statutory holiday pay. Check the Employment Standards Regulation for more information. The following are listed by Employment Standards as not being eligible for statutory holiday pay:
Nursing students and volunteer firefighters
High technology professionals
Silviculture workers (provided they get four percent on each pay cheque in lieu)
Commission sales (provided all wages earned in the pay period would be greater than the amount earned at base rate (or minimum wage) plus overtime and stats)
Car and truck sales (provided they get 4 percent on each paycheque in lieu)
If you are an employer or an employee who is unsure if statutory holiday pay applies to you, reach out to Ascent Employment Law today!