July 7, 2004by Israel Foulon LLP
Question: We operate a firm in Ontario. This year, Canada Day falls on a Thursday. Can we change the day off for July 1 to July 2?
Answer: It is important to provide you with an overview of the state of the law on public holidays in Ontario . The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) identifies eight days as being public holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On these days employees are entitled to take off work and receive payment of their wages known as public holiday pay. If the public holiday falls on a day that would ordinarily be a working day the employer has a duty to give the employee the day off work and pay the employee public holiday pay. This duty exists provided the employee has met the eligibility requirements under the ESA unless there is an agreement between the employer and employee or if the employee falls into one of the identified exemption classes, such as employees of a hospital, a continuous operation, hotel, motel or tourist resort, restaurant or tavern.
If a public holiday falls on a day that would otherwise not be a working day, such as a weekend, the employee shall be given another day as a substitute for the public holiday no later than three months after the public holiday occurred.
An employer who wishes to have its employees work on a public holiday and give them another day off may do so, if the employee agrees to such a change. The employer may not impose such a change on an employee and it is the employee’s right to refuse such an agreement.
Peter Israel is the senior partner in the Toronto law firm of Israel Foulon LLP – Employment and Labour Lawyers. He can be reached at 416-640-1550 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this article originally appeared in the Carswell publication, Canadian Employment Law Today