Statutory Holiday Pay – What Are Employees Entitled To?

By: Sean O’Donnell

These blog posts are meant to provide educational content and are not to be taken as legal advice.


With the holiday season upon us, it is important for employers to understand what their obligations are and what their employees are entitled to as it relates to statutory holiday pay and as mandated by the Employment Standards Act.

Statutory Holidays in Ontario

In Ontario, there are nine statutory or public holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

How is Statutory Holiday Pay Determined? 

Employees are entitled to be paid for statutory holidays regardless of whether they work on them or not. Employees who have statutory holidays off are entitled to their regular wage (as determined by the four-week period prior to the holiday) plus payable vacation pay for the four weeks divided by 20, while employees who work on these days are entitled to time and a half. 

Statutory holidays should not be considered part of the employee’s regular vacation days but may be taken off in addition to those days. 

With the employee’s written consent, an employee may agree to work on a public holiday and receive either premium pay or a substitute holiday.

With the premium pay option, the employer is not required to give the employee a substitute holiday.

With the substitute holiday option, the employee receives regular wages for their hours worked on a statutory holiday and they receive lieu time with pay at the rate of 1.5 days. 

Calculating an employee’s statutory holiday pay can get complicated, particularly if the employee did not work the pay period prior to the public holiday. In this case, the employer would need to rely on the regular wages that were earned during the week of the holiday. It is also important to note that regular wages do not include premium pay or overtime. 

Terms Employers Need to Know

A few of the important terms that employers should understand when determining statutory holiday pay include the following:

Gross regular wages: This is the total amount that you pay an employee before deducting taxes and other deductions. 

Workweek: Each company may set when its workweek begins and ends, however, it is always a recurring set of seven, 24-hour periods. It is important to understand that overtime pay and wages are based on the workweek and not on the calendar week. 

Vacation pay payable: This will be a line on your accounting ledger that shows the amount that is owed to employees for vacation time that they have earned but have not yet taken. 

Contact SJO Employment Lawyers Today

If as an employer, you are unsure about any of these terms or how to calculate your employees’ statutory holiday, it is recommended you seek out professional advice in order to avoid legal difficulties down the road. 

If you have any questions about statutory holiday pay, the team at SJO Employment Lawyers would be happy to assist. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.