Written by Carl Cunningham
One of the first acts of the re-elected Liberal government in Ontario was to create a new statutory holiday. Family Day falls on the third Monday of every February and is the ninth paid public holiday under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
What This Means To Employers
With this new holiday, employees in Ontario are entitled to an additional public holiday. Family Day should be treated the same as other public holidays – New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day – under the Employment Standards Act. In addition to the above public holidays, most employers provide employees with the Civic Holiday in August.
Who Qualifies For Public Holiday Entitlements?
Most employees are eligible for public holiday entitlements. Employees generally qualify for public holiday entitlements unless they fail without reasonable cause to work their entire shift on (1) their last regularly scheduled days of work before or after the public holiday (i.e., the last and first rule) or (2) the public holiday if they agree to or are required to work that day. These qualification requirements apply to Family Day just as they do existing public holidays.
Calculating Public Holiday Pay
Public holiday pay is calculated by adding all of the regular wages (i.e., base wages or base salary not including overtime or public holiday pay) and all of the vacation pay that was paid to the employee in the four weeks ending before the week with the public holiday and dividing that sum by 20. An example where the employee is absent due to illness for four days during the four weeks prior to a public holiday is set out below. Assume the employee:
- works five days a week and earns $100/day;
- was absent for four days during the last two weeks of June (e.g., absent four days during the four weeks preceding the work week in which Canada Day falls); and
- did not take vacation during the four weeks preceding the work week in which Canada Day falls and was not otherwise absent from work on any other day during those four work weeks.
To calculate public holiday pay:
- TOTAL regular wages earned by the employee in the four work weeks before the work week in which the public holiday occurred: $1600 ($100/day times 16 days worked).
- ADD vacation pay paid to the employee with respect to the four work weeks before the work week in which the public holiday occurred (i.e., $0) = $1600.
- DIVIDE $1600 by 20 = $80 Public Holiday Pay for Canada Day.
The above example illustrates that by performing the actual calculation rather than simply paying each employee a regular full day's wages, there are potential savings for the employer (i.e., public holiday pay of $80 rather than $100). Please note that there are several potential scenarios for calculating public holiday pay depending on the facts and the above example is for reference purposes only.
With proper planning and scheduling, Family Day should not result in a significant disruption in your operations, but it will result in an increase in the annual amount of public holiday pay your company pays its employees.