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Ask the Expert (Some Facts About Public Holidays)

Some Facts about Public Holidays 

Summer is almost here and everybody wants to take as much advantage of the beautiful weather as they can. Let’s take a look at Public Holidays and how they fit into the work place. 

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) recognizes eight public holidays. They are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Good Friday

  • Victoria Day

  • Canada Day

  • Labour Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Christmas Day

  • Boxing Day (December 26)

Some workers, if they are fortunate enough, may get Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, the first Monday in August, or Remembrance Day off as well but this is not covered by the ESA. 

Most of us take those days off with pay, kick back and enjoy the cottage, swimming or whatever summer activities strike your fancy. But what about those people who do work? For the waitress serving us at our favourite patio or the nurse removing that fishing hook from your husband’s finger, it’s a regular work day. Some professions, services, and industries have special rules regarding public holidays but they are still covered by the ESA. Generally you have to agree, in writing, to work on those days. If you do agree, you will get your public holiday pay plus a premium for the hours you work on that day. You could opt for a substitute day instead, basically work the holiday and take another day off to make up the difference. 

The only time somebody in one of these professions with special rules is required to work on a public holiday without their agreement is when the holiday falls on a day they would normally work and they are not on vacation. 

I know I always plan my vacation around long weekends to maximize time off but sometimes you forget and book the week during Victoria Day for example. If the holiday falls during your vacation you have two options. First, you can take the holiday pay or you can take a substitute holiday within 3 months of the public holiday. 

Just keep these facts in the back of your head when planning your time off this summer.