Saturday, 11 August 2012

Any Day can be a Holiday

Earlier this month I blogged about the nine “public holidays” under Ontario law and how the Civic Holiday, Remembrance Day, and Easter Sunday were not such holidays, see Public Holidays under the Ontario Employment Standards Act

It has occurred to me that I may have mistakenly left some readers with the impression that no Ontario employee was entitled to those days off as a holiday. That too is incorrect.

The fact is, like almost everything in law, the answer as to whether or not the Civic Holiday, Remembrance Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and other days are 'holidays' is it depends.

While the fact remains that only the nine enumerated days are “public holidays” under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, that does not change the fact that other days may still be a 'holiday' where you work.

If an employee’s employer has always provided a certain day as a paid holiday, or if an employee’s employment contract lists a certain day or period (for example the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day) as a holiday, then for that employee that day or those days are holidays with all the rights and privileges that come with it.

So, to answer the question of whether or not any particular Ontario worker was entitled to treat last Monday as a holiday, the answer is: it depends.

Sean Bawden is an Ottawa, Ontario employment lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawyer.  He tweets from @SeanBawden.


  1. My employers do choose to close the flooring store on the Civic Holiday every year. I am full time, salaried and not part of sales staff but that week I am scheduled to work that Saturday. Am I entitled to a 4 day week like the other 2/3rd's of the staff?

    1. Your question requires more information before I can provide any opinion. Please contact me at:

  2. I have a cafe in an Ontario Provincial courthouse. I am closed as the courthouse is closed... so DomI have to pay my employees for the Monday August Civic Holiday?

    1. It really depends. Under a strict reading of the ESA, the answer is no, as this is not a defined public holiday. However, it really depends on what your contract says, as well as any established convention that you may have - you may well have to, regardless of what the ESA strictly provides.