At Work: Public Holidays, Annual Vacations and Breaks

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Your employer has to obey the law on your working conditions. You have a right to get breaks as well as time off for holidays and when you're sick.



Meal Breaks

Your employer must give you 30 minutes to eat after you work five straight hours. You won't be paid for meal breaks unless your employer wants you to stay at your place.

For example, if your boss asks you to serve customers while you eat because you are the only cashier in the convenience store or the only receptionist at the office, you'll be paid for your lunch break.

Coffee Breaks Your employer doesn't have to give you a coffee break. However, if you do get one, it's included in the hours you work and you should be paid for it.


Public Holidays

Unfortunately, public holidays are not holidays for everyone.  For example, you might have to work on New Year's Day, Easter weekend, Journée des Patriotes (formerly Victoria Day), Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving and even Christmas.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste: The rules for Saint-Jean-Baptiste (June 24) are a little different. Your employer can't make you work unless the business is usually open on holidays (for example, dépanneurs, pharmacies and restaurants). If Saint-Jean-Baptiste falls on a Sunday and the business you work for is usually closed on Sundays, the holiday is pushed ahead to Monday the 25th

Compensation:  No matter what the public holiday, your employer has to pay you if you have to work on the holiday. So, you'll either get another day off with pay, or you'll be paid extra (usually a day's pay in addition to your pay for the day you worked).


Annual Vacation

You're entitled to an annual vacation. The number of days you have off depends on how long you've been with the company.

Employed for less than a year One day of vacation for each month you‘ve worked
Employed for at least a year, but less than three years Two weeks of vacation
Employed for at least three years Three weeks of vacation

Your annual vacation pay is usually 4% of the amount you earned during the preceding year. 


Absence for Illness or Accident

Right to Sick Leave Without Losing Your Job: If you can't work because you're sick or had an accident, your employer can't fire you. You can be off work for up to 26 weeks over a 12 month period without losing your job. But your employer doesn't have to pay you during this time.

Notice: If you can't work,you must let your employer know as soon as possible. You must also let your employer know why you can't work. If you'll be away from work for a long time, or if you're repeatedly absent, you might have to give your employer a medical certificate. This is a letter signed by a doctor explaining why you can't work.

Return to Work: Whenyou return to work, you're entitled to get your old job back. Your employer also has to give you the same salary and benefits as you had before. If your employer abolished your job while you were away, you're entitled to compensation for the loss of your job.  You are also entitled to compensation if you can't return to your job because your employer laid off the whole group of employees that you were a part of. 

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.