Public holidays or statutory holidays are days set aside to observe special occasions. There are nine statutory holidays in Ontario. Most employees are entitled to take the day off on a statutory holiday and receive stat holiday pay. Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to stat holiday pay plus premium pay OR they can opt to receive their regular wages for all hours worked on the public holiday plus a substitute holiday for which they must be paid public holiday pay.
Not paying your employees the correct stat holiday pay and entitlements is a violation of the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) and can lead to fines and penalties. It is important that you have a stat holiday policy to correctly manage public holiday pay.
This blog provides information on Ontario statutory holidays in 2023, stat holiday pay eligibility, and how to correctly calculate stat holiday pay and premium pay.
9 Ontario Statutory Holidays in 2023 Applicable to Employers
In Ontario, there are nine public holidays that employers need to know. It is an employer’s obligation to provide employees with the appropriate statutory holiday entitlement and pay, as defined by the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Time off and compensation are applicable to the following statutory holidays in Ontario:
- New Year’s Day: Sunday, January 1, 2023
- Family Day: Monday, February 20, 2023
- Good Friday: Friday, April 7, 2023
- Victoria Day: Monday, May 22, 2023
- Canada Day: Saturday, July 1, 2023
- Labour Day: Monday, September 4, 2023
- Thanksgiving Day: Monday, October 9, 2023
- Christmas Day: Monday, December 25, 2023
- Boxing Day: Tuesday, December 26, 2023
In addition to these nine holidays, employers in Ontario should also be aware of Remembrance Day (November 11, 2023) and Civic Holiday (August 7, 2023, or the first Monday in August). Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario, which is controversial, and some employers still give employees the day off. Civic Holiday is an optional holiday and provincially regulated employers are not required to give it off, although many do. It is also important that employers know that Ontario is the only province where Boxing Day is a statutory holiday, which may cause confusion for nationwide companies.
Get expert advice on stat holiday pay with Peninsula
Exactly what type of stat holiday pay your employees are entitled to differs for each province. Ask Peninsula for a stat holiday pay and entitlement policy that’s custom-tailored to your business. Our experts can assist you with company policies, and with any other HR, health & safety, or employee management advice you may need. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.
Who is eligible for stat holiday pay in Ontario?
An employee is generally entitled to take all statutory holidays off work and be paid public holiday pay. Most employees qualify for stat holiday pay if their workplace is covered by the Ontario Employment Standards Act and they meet the requirements of ‘the first and last rule’. Qualified employees can be full-time, part-time, permanent or on a term contract, as it does not matter how recently they were hired.
What is the first and last rule?
An employee is eligible for stat holiday pay in Ontario if they have worked their last regularly scheduled shift before the stat holiday and the first one after it, or they have reasonable cause for not working either of those days (such as permission from the employer).
How is statutory holiday pay calculated in Ontario?
Stat holiday pay in Ontario is calculated by adding all of the employee’s regular wages earned in the four work weeks prior to the public holiday plus all of the vacation pay payable with respect to the four work weeks prior to the public holiday, divided by 20.
How will I know when to include vacation pay in calculating stat holiday pay?
That depends on whether the employee was on vacation at any time during the four work weeks prior to the public holiday and the way an employer chooses to pay vacation pay. If the employee was not on vacation during that four-week period, no vacation pay will be included in the calculation.
If the employee is paid vacation pay with every pay cheque, the amount of vacation pay included in the calculation of stat holiday pay will be at least 4% of all of the employee’s wages earned during the four workweek period. Unless an employee earns a higher percentage of vacation pay, such as 6% of wages. In that case, the vacation pay payable will be based on that higher percentage.
However, if the employee receives their vacation pay in a lump sum on a certain date or dates, vacation pay will be included in the calculation of public holiday pay ONLY if that date or dates falls during the relevant four work week period.
What is premium pay and how is it calculated?
If an employee agrees to work on a statutory public holiday with written consent, compensation can be made as holiday pay plus premium pay for all hours worked on the public holiday; this does not allow another day off.
Premium pay is 1½ times an employee’s regular pay. If an employee receives premium pay for working on a public holiday, they must be paid 1½ times their regular rate of pay for each hour they worked.
What is substitute holiday pay?
If an employee agrees to work on a statutory public holiday with written consent, compensation can be made as regular wage pay for all hours worked on a public holiday; this allows another day off in lieu, with holiday pay. Please note that a substitute holiday must be taken within three months of the public holiday for which it was earned. If the employee consents electronically or in writing, the substitute holiday can be scheduled up to 12 months after the public holiday.
If the employee takes a substitute holiday, the employer must provide the employee with a written statement that sets out the public holiday that is being substituted, the date of the substitute holiday, and the date that the statement was issued to the employee. This statement must be provided to the employee before the public holiday.
How to manage stat holiday entitlements
As an employer, it is important that you understand how to correctly manage statutory holiday pay to avoid being fined. You should create a clear and comprehensive policy on statutory holiday pay and include it in your employee handbook. This will help your employees know who qualifies for stat holiday pay and who doesn’t.
Does your employee handbook include a policy for statutory holiday time off?
As a small business owner, it is important that you know how to manage stat holiday pay and entitlements correctly. If you are unsure about your responsibilities when it comes to calculating statutory holiday pay, Peninsula can help. Consult our HR experts call us today at 1 (833) 247-3652 to get advice on developing a stat holiday pay and entitlement policy tailored to your business.