Public Holidays

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The rules on public holidays in Quebec are often difficult to understand. This article answers some common questions about public holidays, also called "statutory holidays".

What is a "statutory holiday"?

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

If you work on a statutory 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 three weeks before or after the holiday).

Which days are considered statutory 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 get the holidays listed above, you must meet certain requirements:

1. You must meet the definition of an "employee" in a law called an Act respecting labour standards. Most employees in Quebec are covered by this law. But some workers are not covered or are only partly covered.

An "employee" is a person who works for an employer and who earns a salary.

To find out if this law applies to you, consult our article Workplace Protections in Quebec.

2. 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 three days per week as a lab assistant: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. He worked his three 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.

3. Finally, the rules on statutory holidays don't apply to workers who are covered by a union contract that provides for

  • at least seven paid holidays, and
  • the holiday of June 24th.

Non-unionized workers at the same establishment who benefit from the same holidays (seven 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, two days off at Easter, the 24th of June and the 1st of July, plus a full week off at Christmas. Because she gets seven 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 three 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 four complete weeks of pay prior to the week of the 24th. Tips must be included by the employer in this calculation, but not overtime.

Important! For federal employees working in Quebec, their right to the June 24th holiday depends on their  union contracts or employment contracts. Also, self-employed workers do not have a right to this 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.