Public Holidays

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The rules on public holidays in Quebec are often difficult to understand. In this article, Éducaloi attempts to put the pieces together and answer common questions about public holidays.

Does the Act respecting labour standards apply to me?

A law called the Act respecting labour standards applies to most employees in Quebec. An employee is a person who works for an employer and who earns a salary.

However, some workers are not covered or are only covered in part by the Act.

To find out if the Act applies to you, consult our Infosheet Labor Standards in Quebec.

What is a “statutory general holiday”?

A statutory general holiday is a special day on which you don’t work but get paid anyways!

If you work on a statutory general holiday, your employer must not only pay you your regular salary, but also compensation or one paid day off (which you can take up to 3 weeks before or after the holiday).

Which days are considered holidays?

  • January 1st (New Year’s Day)
  • Good Friday or Easter Monday - employer’s choice
  • the Monday before May 25 (National Patriots’ Day)
  • July 1st, or 2nd if the 1st is a Sunday (Canada Day)
  • the 1st Monday in September (Labour Day)
  • the 2nd Monday of October (Thanksgiving)
  • December 25th (Christmas)

In addition, the National Holiday Act makes June 24th (Saint-Jean-Baptiste) a statutory holiday. This holiday is pushed forward to the 25th if the 24th falls on a Sunday.

Who has a right to statutory holidays?

To be able to have the holidays listed in the Act respecting labour standards, you have to be an employee covered by this law. See the first question of this Infosheet.

You must not be absent from work without your employer’s permission or without a valid reason on the business day before or following the holiday. The business day in question depends on your schedule and not on the hours of the business.

For example, Meng works 3 days per week as a lab assistant: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. He worked his 3 days this week. The coming Monday is the one before May 25th. He should be paid for that holiday even if he wasn’t at work on Friday. According to Meng’s schedule, he isn’t supposed to be at work on Fridays. Although he didn’t show up on Friday, he isn’t considered absent from his work on the business day before that holiday.

Finally, the provisions relating to holidays don’t apply to workers who are covered by a union contract that provides for:

  • at least 7 paid holidays; and
  • the holiday of June 24th.

Non-unionized workers at the same establishment who benefit from the same holidays (7 days and the 24th) as their unionized co-workers are also not eligible.

For example, Rosa is a receptionist at a security company where the employees are unionized. While she isn't covered by the collective agreement, she still has the same rights concerning holidays as her unionized colleagues: the 1st Monday of September, the 2nd Monday of October, 2 days off at Easter, the 24th of June and the 1st of July, plus a full week off at Christmas. Because she gets 7 paid holidays in addition to the 24th of June, she can't claim any right to the other holidays listed in the Act respecting labour standards.

What happens if I work on a statutory holiday?

If you have to work on a holiday, your employer must pay you compensation or offer you one paid day off, which must be taken within 3 weeks before or after the holiday.

The compensation is equal to 1/20 of the wages earned during the 4 complete work weeks leading up to the week of the holiday, not counting overtime. For workers paid in full or in part by commission, the amount is 1/60 of the wages earned during the 12 previous weeks.

For most people, this just means a day's worth of pay!

If the employee is on annual holiday at the time of the statutory holiday, the employer must pay compensation or give the one-day paid holiday at a date agreed between them.

I heard that there were special rules for the National Holiday on June 24. Is that true?

Yes. Almost all employees have the right to this holiday (or compensation) even if they are not covered by the Act respecting labour standards. When June 24 falls on a Sunday, the holiday is pushed to June 25 (except for employees who typically work on Sundays).

If an employee has to work on June 24 and his employer offers him a replacement holiday to compensate, that replacement holiday must be taken the working day before or after June 24 (and not up to three weeks before or after, as is the case for other statutory holidays).

If the employer doesn’t offer a replacement holiday, he must pay compensation to the employee. This compensation is equal to 1/20 of the wages earned during the 4 complete weeks of pay prior to the week of the 24th. Tips must be included by the employer in this calculation, but not overtime.

Caution! Federal employees that work in Quebec may have a right to the holiday but only if their collective bargaining agreement or employment contract allows it. As well, self-employed workers do not have a right to the holiday.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.