Public Holidays

Zeljko Bozic / Hemera / Thinkstock

What are the public holidays in Quebec? How do you calculate the compensation you are entitled to? What if you must work on a public holiday? Are the rules the same if you work part-time?

Éducaloi answers common questions about public holidays, also called statutory holidays.

Before you read this article...

The rules explained below apply only to workers who meet the definition of employee under a law called an Act respecting labour standards

The article explains your minimum entitlement under the law. Your employer may give you more than the required minimum

If you belong to a union, your union contract may have different rules. Even if you don’t belong to a union, you are entitled to the same public holidays stated in a union contract that applies to your unionized coworkers.      

 

Eight Public Holidays a Year 

These are the public holidays under Quebec law:

  • January 1 (New Year’s Day)
  • Good Friday or Easter Monday (employer’s choice)
  • The Monday before May 25 (Journée nationale des patriotes) 
  • July 1, or July 2 if the 1st is a Sunday (Canada Day)
  • The first Monday in September (Labour Day)
  • The second Monday of October (Thanksgiving)
  • December 25 (Christmas)

In addition, the National Holiday Act makes June 24 (Saint-Jean-Baptiste) a special public holiday. Special rules apply. They are explained at the end of this article.

 

Public Holidays: Getting Paid Even if You Don’t Work 

In simple terms, a public holiday is a day when you don’t work but still get paid! 

The law says your employer must compensate you even if you don’t work. The compensation is usually an amount of money. 

The compensation is equal to 1/20 of the wages you earned during the four complete work weeks leading up to the week of the holiday. Tips are included in your wages but overtime pay is not.

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 who work full-time, this just means a day’s worth of pay! For someone who works part-time, the amount is usually less than a full day’s pay. 

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST or labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board) has a tool for calculating the amount you’re entitled to.

Important! To be entitled to compensation, you must have worked on your usual work day before or after the holiday, unless you had your employer’s permission or a valid reason to be absent. For example, you work only from Tuesdays to Thursdays. To be compensated for Labour Day (a Monday), you must work on the Thursday before Labour Day or on the Tuesday after Labour Day. 

 

What if you must work on a public holiday? 

If you must work on a public holiday, your employer must pay you your regular wages for all the hours you worked. Plus, your employer must: 

  • pay you an additional compensation, or
  • give you a paid replacement holiday (time off with pay).

The additional compensation or the pay for a replacement holiday is calculated using the compensation rules explained in the section above.

If you are given a paid replacement holiday, you must take it during the three weeks before or after the public holiday.

To be entitled to the additional compensation or paid time off, you must have worked on your usual work day before or after the public holiday, unless you had your employer’s permission or a valid reason to be absent (see example above). 

If you work part-time, the rules are the same!

 

What if you are not scheduled to work on the public holiday? 

You are entitled to compensation for a public holiday even if it falls on a day that is not part of your usual work schedule. For example, if you work from Tuesday to Friday, you are still entitled to compensation for Labour Day, which is a Monday. 

But to be entitled to the compensation, you must have worked on your usual work day before or after the public holiday, unless you had your employer’s permission or a valid reason to be absent (see example above).

 

What if there’s a public holiday during your annual vacation?

If you’re on your annual vacation at the time of the public holiday, your employer must either compensate you or give you a paid replacement holiday. You and your employer must agree on what day you can take off. 

 

Special Rules for the National Holiday (June 24) 

The rules for the national holiday apply to almost all workers even if they are not covered by the Act respecting labour standards.

If June 24 is a Sunday, the holiday is pushed to June 25 (except for workers who usually work on Sunday).

For workers who must work on June 24 and their employers give them a paid replacement holiday, the day must be taken on your usual working day before or after June 24 (and not in the three weeks leading up to or after June 24 as is the case for other public holidays). 

Employers who do not give workers a paid replacement holiday must give them an additional compensation. The compensation is equal to 1/20 of the wages earned during the four complete work weeks leading up to the week of June 24. For workers paid in full or in part by commission, the amount is 1/60 of the wages earned during the 12 previous weeks. Tips are included in the calculation but overtime pay is not.

Important! 

  • For federal employees working in Quebec, their right to the June 24 holiday depends on their union contracts or employment contracts. 
  • Self-employed workers do not have the 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.