Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Holidays on Sunday

When is “Canada Day”? How about “New Year’s Day” or “Christmas”? Like all good legal questions, the answer, it would appear, is “it depends.”

Pursuant to subsection 1(1) of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 the following days are designated as “public holidays”, to which certain rights and obligations apply:

  1. New Year’s Day.
  2. Family Day, being the third Monday in February.
  3. Good Friday.
  4. Victoria Day.
  5. Canada Day.
  6. Labour Day.
  7. Thanksgiving Day.
  8. Christmas Day.
  9. December 26.

Of those, the only calendar days that one could derive with any certainty (and without knowledge of what those days mean) are "Family Day" and December 26.

So when is “Canada Day” anyway?

Legislation Act, 2006

The answer is not as clear as one may want. In fact, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 does not provide any definition of those dates.

The answer is buried in the Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Sch F.

Pursuant to sections 87 and 88 of that law, “holiday” means

  1. Sunday.
  2. New Year’s Day.
  3. Family Day.
  4. Good Friday.
  5. Easter Monday.
  6. Victoria Day.
  7. Canada Day.
  8. Labour Day.
  9. Thanksgiving Day.
  10. Remembrance Day.
  11. Christmas Day.
  12. Boxing Day.
  13. Any day fixed as a holiday by proclamation of the Governor General or Lieutenant Governor.

But it is within subsection (3) – (5) of section 88 that things get really fun.

Subsection 88(3) provides, “When New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is also a holiday.”

Subsection 88(4) says, “In accordance with the Holidays Act (Canada), when July 1 is a Sunday, Canada Day falls on July 2.

Subsection 88(5) will tell you that, “When Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is also a holiday, and when it falls on a Sunday, the following Tuesday is also a holiday.”

So, that means:

  • If January 1 falls on a Sunday, employees are entitled to two public holidays, i.e. January 1 and two.
  • If July 1 falls on a Sunday, then July 1 is not a “public holiday” under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (and other statutes) nor is it even “Canada Day”; July 2 is. (For what it’s worth the party on Parliament Hill including the fireworks still go off on the 1st.)
  • If Christmas Day, December 25th, falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then all of December 25-27 are public holidays.

This distinction and increasing of the number of public holidays will occasionally catch employers unaware.

Takeaways for Employers with Labour Pains

The key takeaway for employers is that it is prudent to consider more than one statute when trying to interpret Ontario’s employment standards legislation. Surprisingly, the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s website, Public Holiday Pay makes exactly zero reference to any of the foregoing. If you are an employer and you have questions about your responsibilities under Ontario’s labour and employment laws, contact the professional, experienced and cost-effective employment lawyers for employers at Ottawa's Kelly Santini LLP; we would be happy to be of service to your business or organization.

Contact Me

To reach the author of this blog, Sean Bawden, email sbawden@kellysantini.com or call 613.238.6321 x260.

Sean P. Bawden is a partner with Kelly Santini LLP, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He practices in the areas of employment law and civil litigation. He has also taught Trial Advocacy for Paralegals and Small Claims Court Practice at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

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As always, everyone’s situation is different. The above is not intended to be legal advice for any particular situation. It is always prudent to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions with respect to your own case.

Photo Credit: (c) istock/Kim Grosz

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