Holiday Pay roll of dollars in a reclining chair Pivotal HR Solutions Blog

Struggling with new public holiday pay guidelines? Confused about other Ontario Employment Standards?

Significant changes to Employment Standards and Public Holiday came into force January 1, 2018, under Bill 148, with additional modifications phased in from July 1, 2018. Some Payroll Managers and their Payroll Management Services may not be aware of all the changes — or could benefit from a “one-page guide” for day-to-day use. To make it easier, we’ve detailed many of the changes here.

Public Holiday Pay

It is critical that payroll managers or their outsource managers correctly implement changes. As we previously reported, a third of companies make mistakes in payroll; although this is a U.S. statistic from the IRS, there’s likely a similar number for Canada. [Story here>>]

Keep this handy guide [1] for your reference, or better yet, employ an expert Payroll Management Service to help you. There is also a handy holiday pay calculator on the Ontario Government website, here>>

As of Jan 1, 2018

As of January 1, 2018, the rules were to take the previous pay period of regular wages (excluding vacation pay payable) divided by the days worked.

As of July 1, 2018

Take the four-week period of regular wages (including vacation pay payable), and divide by 20  — which pro-rates the holiday average for part-time employment.

Ontario Employment and Labour Standards Summarized 2018

To make it easier, here’s a quick synopsis of the regulations — although, as always, refer to your Payroll Management Service and the Ontario Government for latest and fullest information or guidance.  (NOTE: Please note the addendum on sick pay and other types of leave pay for clarification on the differences.)

This is for your convenience, and Pivotal HR Solutions is not responsible for any errors that result due to the use of this information. E&EO.

Minimum Wage
  • $14 per hour, increasing to $15 per hour January 1, 2019
  • Note: generic rate, there are some variations by type of employment. See section 5 of Exemptions, Special Rules and Establishment of Minimum Wage Regulation
Overtime Pay
  • When over 44 hours per week, overtime is 1.5 times regular hourly wage
  • After one year: 2 weeks
  • After five years: 3 weeks
Vacation Pay
  • One year: 4% of vacationable earnings
  • After five years: 6% of vactationable earnings
Statutory Holiday Pay
  • IF WORKED: wage earned PLUS the alternate day
  • OR, regular wages time and a half
  • Calculating regular wages (after July 1, 2018) see above section “Public Holiday Pay”
  • IF NOT WORKED: regular wage (subject again to changes after July 1, 2018, see “Public Holiday Pay”
Statutory Holidays
  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Family Day: 3rd Monday in February
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day: July 1
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day: December 25
  • Boxing Day: December 26
Sick Days
  • Up to 10 days per year, 2 of which are paid
  • 13 weeks of organ donation leave is also available.
Parental Leave
  • Employees (either parent) will be entitled to a more extended, job-protected parental leave of up to 61 weeks for employees who have taken pregnancy leave, or up to 63 weeks for employees who are eligible for or take only parental leave [Refer to detailed guidelines: Provincial>>]
Compassionate / Family Care Leave
  • Up to 28 weeks within a 52 week period (conditions apply.)
  • Check Ontario government website for full guidelines
Emergency Leave
  • Up to 10 days for personal emergencies, only 2 of which are paid
Provincial Payroll Tax
Voting Time
  • Must allow 3 hours
Critical Illness of a Child
  • If a minor child, 37 weeks within a 52 week period
  • If an adult child, 17 weeks within a 52 week period
  • In both cases, must have been employed at least six months
Death or Disappearance of a Child
  • 104 weeks
  • Must have been employed at least six months
Domestic or Sexual Violence
  • Ten days, of which five are paid
  • If employed minimum 13 weeks

QUESTION from Reader:

Are the 10 sick days and 10 emergency leave days considered the same? A total of 10?”

Answer: “From Employment & Labour Lawyers Israel Foulon:
“…as an employer you will find that many employees think they are entitled to both their employer’s paid sick days as well as the government’s 10 days of unpaid leave per year. This is not the case, and therefore companies should ensure internal policies are clear so employees fully understand their entitlements to paid and unpaid leave. “
From Ontario Government website: “PEL, family caregiver leave, family medical leave, domestic or sexual violence leave, critical illness leave, child death leave and crime-related child disappearance leave are different types of leaves. The purposes of the leaves, their length and eligibility criteria are different…. An employee who is entitled to personal emergency leave can take up to 10 days of leave each calendar year due to: personal illness, injury or medical emergency; or death, illness, injury, medical emergency ; or urgent matter relating to the following family members: spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders) parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse; spouse of the employee’s child; brother or sister of the employee; relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance…
“An employer may require an employee to provide evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” that they are eligible for personal emergency leave. However, employers cannot require employees to provide a medical note from a physician, registered nurse or psychologist.
What will be reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all of the facts of the situation, such as the duration of the leave, whether there is a pattern of absences, whether any evidence is available and the cost of the evidence. For example, if an employee takes the leave because of the death of a person included in the group of family members covered by personal emergency leave, it would be reasonable for an employer to request a copy of an obituary or a death certificate.
The prohibition in the ESA against requiring a note from a physician, registered nurse or psychologist applies only with respect to providing evidence that the employee is entitled to personal emergency leave. There may be some situations outside of the scope of personal emergency leave where an employer may need medical documentation in order to, for example, accommodate an employee, satisfy return to work obligations. The ESA does not prohibit employers from requiring a note for these sorts of other purposes.”


IMPORTANT NOTE: The information on this page is subject to change. It is provided for your convenience, but Pivotal HR Solutions cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Always check with the Ontario Government website for more detailed or up-to-date information. Pivotal HR Solutions accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions.


[1] Ontario Government.

[2] Employment and Labour Lawyers Israel Foulon.

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