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Public holiday pay

The ESA provides for nine public holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day *
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • (December 26) Boxing Day

Most employees are entitled to public holidays regardless of how long they've been working.

*Note: Family day is a public holiday falling on the third Monday in February.


Table of Contents
  1. Do I get public holidays?
  2. How is public holiday pay calculated?
  3. Can I agree to work on a public holiday?
  4. What am I paid if I worked none of the hours I agreed to work on a public holiday, or only some of the hours?
  5. If I qualify for public holiday pay can I be required to work on that day?
  6. What if I agree to work on a public holiday at my regular rate of pay, but my employment ends before I can take a substitute day off with public holiday pay?
  7. What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?
  8. Can I see the ESA?

Do I get public holidays? Top

To see if you are entitled to public holidays under the Employment Standards Act, 2000:

  • Refer to Is my job covered? for details about industry-specific and job-specific exemptions from public holidays.
  • Refer to Public Holidays for more information about qualifying for a day off and public holiday pay and about special rules about this entitlement.
How is public holiday pay calculated? Top
  • Add all of the regular wages earned and all of the vacation pay payable to you in the four work weeks ending just before the work week with the public holiday.
  • Divide this sum by 20.

For example:

Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday and Boxing Day on a Wednesday. Suppose that an employer's work week runs from Sunday to Saturday. In this case, the four work weeks used to calculate public holiday pay are those four weeks counting backwards from the Saturday (the last day of the employer's work week) before the public holidays.

Sun. Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat.
25 26 27 28 29 30 1
(Dec)
2

3 4 5 6 7 8
9

10 11 12 13 14 15
16

17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25
Public
Holiday
26
Public
Holiday
27 28 29

If the employee is taking a substitute day off with public holiday pay, this calculation is done for the four work weeks before the work week in which the substitute day falls.

The following four examples show how to calculate public holiday pay under a number of different circumstances. (In each example it is assumed that the employee qualifies for public holiday pay by working the last regularly scheduled shift before the public holiday and the first regularly scheduled shift after the holiday.)

Example 1: A typical case

Farida works five days a week and earns $100.00 a day.

  1. Farida's total regular wages are calculated:
    • $100.00 per day x 5 days = $500.00 per week
    • $500.00 per week x 4 work weeks = $2,000.00
    • Farida earned $2,000.00 in the four work weeks before the public holiday.
  2. Then her total wages are divided by 20:
    • $2,000.00 ÷ 20 = $100.00
  3. Result: Farida is entitled to $100.00 public holiday pay.



Example 2: When vacation time is involved

Brad works five days a week and earns $100.00 a day. He was on vacation for two of the four weeks before the public holiday. He is paid $1,000.00 vacation pay for his two weeks of vacation.

  1. Brad's wages and vacation pay are added together:
    • Brad worked 10 days. 10 x $100.00 = $1,000.00
    • Brad also received 10 days vacation pay = $1,000.00
    • His wages and vacation pay total $2,000.00.
  2. Brad's total wages and vacation pay are then divided by 20:
    • $2,000.00 ÷ 20 = $100.00

    Result: Brad is entitled to $100.00 public holiday pay.



Example 3: When an employee works part-time and each pay cheque includes vacation pay

Tegan works three days a week and earns $100.00 a day. She and her employer have agreed in writing that she will receive four per cent vacation pay on each cheque.

  1. First Tegan's wages are calculated:
    • $100.00 per day x 3 days = $300.00 per week
    • $300.00 per week x 4 weeks = $1,200.00
  2. Her vacation pay is also calculated:
    • $ 4.00 per day (4% of $100.00) x 3 days = $12.00 per week
    • $12.00 per week x 4 weeks = $48.00
  3. Then her wages and vacation pay are added together:
    • $1,200.00 + $48.00 = $1,248.00
  4. Tegan's total wages and vacation pay are then divided by 20:
    • $1,248.00 ÷ 20 = $62.40

    Result: Tegan is entitled to $62.40 public holiday pay.



Example 4: When there are no set hours and each pay cheque includes vacation pay

Andrea doesn't work a set number of hours per day or days per week. Her pay varies from week to week, according to the time she has worked. She and her employer have agreed in writing that she will receive four per cent vacation pay on each pay cheque.

  1. Andrea's total wages and vacation pay for the four weeks before the holiday are added:
    • $1,500.00 wages + $60.00 vacation pay = $1,560.00
    • Andrea's wages and vacation pay total $1,560.00.
  2. Andrea's total wages and vacation pay are then divided by 20:
    • $1,560.00 ÷ 20 = $78.00

    Result: Andrea is entitled to $78.00 public holiday pay.

Can I agree to work on a public holiday? Top

Most employees have the right to refuse to work on a public holiday, and to take the day off and get paid public holiday pay. However, you can agree to work on the holiday. (The agreement must be in writing.) In that case there are two options::

you are entitled to regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday plus another regular working day off with public holiday pay (this substitute day off must be scheduled for no later than three months after the public holiday or, if you agree in writing, up to 12 months after the public holiday)

or

if you agree in writing, you are entitled to public holiday pay for the public holiday plus premium pay (1 and ½ times your regular rate) for all hours you worked on the public holiday. In that case, you don't get a substitute day off.

For example:

A public holiday falls on one of Betty's normal working days. She and her employer have agreed in writing that she will work on the public holiday and that, instead of getting a substitute day off, she will be paid public holiday pay plus premium pay for all the hours she works on the holiday.

Betty regularly works eight hours a day, five days a week. Her regular hourly pay rate is $10.00. She has worked on all her scheduled work days in the four work weeks before the public holiday. She works eight hours on the public holiday.

  1. First Betty's total regular wages are calculated:
    • 8 hours per day x $10.00 per hour = $80.00 per day
    • $80.00 per day x 5 days = $400.00 per week
    • $400.00 x 4 work weeks = $1,600.00

    Betty earned $1,600 in the four work weeks before the public holiday.

  2. Her total wages are then divided by 20:
    • $1,600.00 ÷ 20 = $80.00

    Betty's public holiday pay entitlement is $80.00.

  3. Finally, the premium pay owing to Betty is calculated:
    • $10.00 per hour x 1½ = $15.00
    • $15.00 per hour x 8 hours worked = $120.00

    Betty's premium pay entitlement is $120.00.

What am I paid if I worked none of the hours I agreed to work on a public holiday, or only some of the hours? Top

Working none or only some of the hours you agreed to work on the public holiday, unless you have reasonable cause for not working, will eliminate your right to public holiday pay or to a substitute day off with pay. However, you would still be paid premium pay for any hours you did work on the public holiday.

These are complicated scenarios. You can find out more by clicking on the links to the fact sheets below.

If I qualify for public holiday pay can I be required to work on that day? Top

Some employees can be required to work on a public holiday. For example, an employee who works in a hospital, hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant, tavern or other specified business may be required to work if the holiday falls on a day the employee would normally work (and he or she is not on vacation).

Refer to Public holidays for more information about qualifying for a day off and public holiday pay and about special rules about this entitlement.

If you are employed in one of these businesses and you are required to work, you are entitled to either:

Your regular rate of pay for the hours worked on the public holiday, plus a substitute day off work with public holiday pay.

OR

Public holiday pay plus premium pay for each hour you worked.

The employer chooses which of these options will apply.

Employees who work in jobs that are exempt from the public holidays part of the ESA can also be required to work on public holidays. Refer to Is my job covered? for details about industry specific and job specific exemptions.

What if I agree to work on a public holiday at my regular rate of pay, but my employment ends before I can take a substitute day off with public holiday pay? Top

If your employment ends before you can take a substitute day off with public holiday pay, the employer must pay you the public holiday pay owing at the same time as your final wages. This will be within seven days after your employment ends or on your next pay day, whichever comes later.

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA? Top

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?

Can I see the ESA? Top

Employment Standards Act, 2000

Resources Top

Government:
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000: Public Holidays

Ontario Ministry of Labour
Employment Standards



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