All you need to know about Québec's National Holiday, Canada Day and the Labour Standards Act

June 21st, 2016

To fully comply with the law, remember the following important rules

CLAUDIA PARENT, Lawyer | Québec

This year, the National Holiday and Canada Day both fall on a Friday. This could be a real headache for employers for a variety of reasons, including employees with Monday to Thursday work schedules. To fully comply with the law, remember the following important rules.

  • All employees, regardless of their hiring date and work schedules, are entitled to both public holidays, namely the National Holiday (June 24) and Canada Day (July 1);
  • The National Holiday (June 24) is distinct from other public holidays and is governed by the National Holiday Act (which, it should be noted, does not apply to enterprises under federal jurisdiction);

Requirements to work are limited for Québec's National Holiday

  • An employer's right to require that its employees work on June 24 is limited; only an employer whose activities, by their very nature cannot be interrupted, may require that its employees work on that date. For example, enterprises such as hotels, restaurants and breakdown and emergency services may continue their activities;
  • If employees must work on June 24, their employer must pay them wages corresponding to the work performed on that day in addition to paying them a compensatory public holiday indemnity or granting them a compensatory holiday to be taken the business day before or after June 24. The decision to pay an indemnity or grant a compensatory holiday belongs entirely to the employer;

Obligations differ according to the employee's normal work schedule

  • If employees are not required to work on June 24, the employer's obligations differ according to the employees' normal work schedule. If Friday is a normal work day (for example in the case of a Monday to Friday work schedule), an employee is entitled to an indemnity equal to 1/20 of his or her wages earned during the four complete weeks of pay preceding the week of June 24, excluding overtime. However, the indemnity paid to an employee remunerated in whole or in part by commission must be equal to 1/60 of the wages earned during the 12 complete weeks of pay preceding the week of June 24. If Friday is not normally worked (for example in the case of a Monday to Thursday work schedule), the employer must nevertheless pay the public holiday indemnity. Furthermore, contrary to other public holidays, the employer must grant a compensatory holiday of a duration equal to a regular day of work, which holiday must be taken on the business day preceding or following June 24.
  • Unlike the eligibility requirements for other public holidays, to be entitled to the National Holiday, an employee is not required to be at work on the business day preceding or following June 24;

Different rules apply for Canada Day

  • Canada Day is a public holiday under the Labour Standards Act;
  • However, an employer may require that its employees work on July 1, provided that they are properly compensated. To be entitled to holiday benefits, the employee must be at work the business day preceding or following July 1. An employee who works on July 1 is entitled to be paid wages corresponding to the hours worked in addition to the public holiday indemnity. Depending on the type of remuneration, the employer must pay an indemnity of 1/20 or 1/60 of the employee's wages earned. The employer may grant a compensatory holiday in lieu of paying the indemnity. The compensatory holiday must be taken in the three weeks preceding or following July 1. Employees who do not normally work on Friday, which is the day on which July 1 falls this year, are only entitled to the indemnity.

What about calculating overtime?

  • Lastly, the employer must also take the public holiday into account in calculating overtime. If Friday is a day normally worked, the employer must consider those hours as time worked. However, if Friday is not a day normally worked (for example in the case of a Monday to Thursday work schedule), the public holiday is not taken into account for overtime purposes;

The collective agreement rules apply for unionized workplaces

  • Obviously, in a unionized workplace, the collective agreement may contain specific provisions, which employers must take into consideration. The situation can become more problematic for employees on night shifts whose work schedule overlaps form June 23 into June 24 and from June 30 into July 1.

Feel free to contact our labour and employment law team, who will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Have good holiday!