Bill 148 reforms have ushered in changes to the public holiday provisions of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). This post outlines the new formula for calculating public holiday pay that came into effect on January 1, 2018.

Full time, part time, permanent and fixed-term employees can all still qualify for the public holiday entitlement.  No matter how recently employees were hired, they will be entitled to the nine public holidays listed in the ESA if they worked their last regularly scheduled day of work before the public holiday and their first regularly scheduled day of work after the public holiday.  The Ministry of Labour calls this the “last and first rule”.  Bill 148 did not alter this.

However, Bill 148 introduced a change in the formula for calculating an employee’s pay for the public holiday.  Subject to the following exceptions, the amount of public holiday pay to which an employee is entitled is all of the regular wages earned by the employee in the pay period before the public holiday, divided by the number of days the employee worked in that period.

Exception 1:  For employees on personal emergency leave (“PEL”) or vacation – or combination of  both – for the entire pay period before the holiday, public holiday day pay is based on their regular wages earned in the pay period before the start of PEL and/or vacation, divided by the number of days worked in that pay period;

Exception 2: For new employees who were not employed during the pay period before the holiday, public holiday pay is based on their regular wages earned in the pay period that includes the public holiday, divided by the number of days the employee worked in that period.

Note that the definition of “regular wages” under the ESA does not include overtime pay, vacation pay, public holiday pay, premium pay, personal emergency leave pay, domestic or sexual violence leave pay, termination pay, or severance pay.

Watch for my next post on a new obligation Bill 148 imposes on employers when employees work on a public holiday.

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