Answers to common questions related to general holidays for federally regulated employers

2022 is fast approaching and while most employers know when general holidays occur, there can be some confusion around what constitutes a holiday, when employees are eligible, and how much to pay them. In this post, we hope to shed some light on these common questions.

What and when are the general holidays in Canada?

Officially recognized general holidays for those regulated by the Canada Labour Code include the following:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1*
  • Good Friday – April 15
  • Victoria Day – May 23
  • Canada Day – July 1
  • Labour Day – September 5
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30
  • Thanksgiving – October 10
  • Remembrance Day – November 11
  • Christmas – December 25*
  • Boxing Day – December 26*

*For organizations with a standard Monday to Friday workweek, New Year’s Day and Christmas are typically recognized on the following Monday, with Boxing Day in 2022 being recognized on the following Tuesday.

While many federally regulated organizations within BC choose to recognize Family Day (February 21st in 2022), Easter Monday (April 18th in 2022), and/or BC Day (August 1st in 2022), these are not general holidays under the Canada Labour Code (CLC).

When and how do employees qualify to be paid for general holidays?

Under the CLC, holiday pay is based upon how much employees earned within the 4-week period immediately before the week that the general holiday falls in. In the case of employees who don’t work a standard Monday to Friday workweek, if a general holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off, you can add an extra day to their annual vacation amount or provide them with another day off in lieu.

How much do employees get paid for general holidays?

Regular salaried employees who’ve been continuously employed for at least 4 weeks will simply be paid their regular pay. New employees, those who’ve been on an unpaid leave, and/or hourly/casual employees’ pay will be equal to at least 1/20th of their wages within this time (not including overtime).

What if an employee works on a general holiday?

If an employee works on a general holiday, pay them 1.5 times their regular rate/salary for all the hours worked on the holiday, in addition to the holiday pay for that day. True managers (as defined by the CLC) and exempt professionals (e.g., engineers) receive their regular pay in addition to a day off in lieu, to be used at another time.

Can you substitute a different day for a general holiday?

You can agree, in writing, with a specific employee to swap out the regular general holiday for another day, so long as the substituted day is also treated like the holiday. In other words, the same rules apply for eligibility, payment, etc. To substitute a day for several/all of your employees (e.g., choosing to recognize a holiday that falls in the middle of the week, like Canada Day, on the Monday or Friday), at least 70% of impacted employees must agree to the change.

If your organization is a First Nation Administration, is in support of Indigenous and culturally diverse people and services, and/or you want to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workplace, you may want to change the way your organization views and manages general holidays. Refer to our post from earlier this year for further thoughts and details on how to do so.

Get in touch with us if you have questions related to general holidays in Canada.