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Taking Care of Business, Every (Holi)day: A Guide to Holidays and Holiday Pay

December 08, 2016

With the holidays fast approaching, many employees are looking forward to enjoying some time off. Some employees may even look forward to working over the holidays for the extra pay. Of course, legislated (sometimes called statutory, public, general, or paid) holidays are important, as they allow employees to rest and relax or celebrate various important events without a loss of pay.

Just like any other legislated employment or labour standard, there are important points to consider in order to appropriately administer this benefit to employees. Organizations that fail to understand legislated holiday provisions may over- or under-pay their employees, disengage their workforce, and take on unnecessary administrative burdens.

Do you have a plan in place for this holiday season? This year presents special challenges, because both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day—holidays in every jurisdiction—fall on Sundays, when many employees aren’t scheduled to be working.

Holiday provisions vary by jurisdiction, but in general, if the holiday falls on a day when the employee would not normally work, or a day when the employee is on vacation, the employee is entitled to one of two options:

  • A substitute day off with public holiday pay; or
  • Public holiday pay for the day, in which case there is no substitute day off.

It is important to check your jurisdiction’s legislation for the details of how public holiday pay and days off are administered. For example, in Ontario, if an employee and employer agree to provide the employee with public holiday pay for the day and no substitute day off, the agreement must be in writing or it may be ruled invalid if challenged. In contrast, in Alberta, if a holiday falls on a day that an employee is not regularly scheduled to work, they are not entitled to holiday pay or an alternate day off. There may also be provisions for industries and professions that are exempted from holiday legislation.

To get started, download our Holiday Pay Action Plan, which explores tricky aspects of holiday pay in more detail. If you want to compare legislated provisions or entitlements, claim a free trial with HRdownloads to visit our Compliance Centre.

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