Monday May 18, is Victoria Day (Journée nationale des patriotes, or National Patriot’s Day, in Quebec); a holiday which most employees are entitled to take off and receive public holiday pay. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in emergency leaves, temporary layoffs and reduced schedules. As a result, some may have lost track of upcoming long weekends and public holiday pay requirements. Below is a refresher on employee entitlement to public holiday pay in Ontario and how to calculate pay for employees who’s employment has been affected by COVID-19.
Public Holiday Pay
Generally, employees qualify for public holiday pay on Victoria Day if they have worked all of their last regularly scheduled workday before the public holiday or all of their first regularly scheduled workday after the public holiday, or have reasonable cause not to have not done so. This means that some employees whose work has been affected by COVID-19, will still be entitled to the public holiday pay for Victoria Day.
For example, an employee might not be scheduled to work the day right before or after the holiday. As long as the employee works all of their last regularly scheduled shift before the holiday and all of the first one after it, or has reasonable cause for not doing so, they will be entitled to public holiday pay.
Employees on Leave or Layoff
Employees may be entitled to public holiday pay while on leave, including a protected leave related to COVID-19, such a declared emergency leave. If the employee worked the last regularly scheduled day of work before the leave, and the first regularly scheduled day of work after the leave, or has reasonable cause for failing to do so, he or she will be entitled to the paid public holiday.
Similarly, an employee on layoff may be entitled to public holiday pay for a public holiday that occurred while they were laid off as long as he or she works their last regularly scheduled day before the lay off began and her first regularly scheduled day after being recalled, or has reasonable cause for failing to do so, they will be paid for the public holiday.
Calculation of Public Holiday Pay
Despite being entitled to public holiday pay, depending on when the employee took leave or was laid off, the calculation may still result in no payment. Holiday pay is calculated using the regular wages earned by the employee in the four work weeks before the week with the public holiday, plus all of the vacation pay payable during those four work weeks before week with the public holiday, divided by 20.
So, if the employee has spent more than four weeks without wages or vacation pay before the week of Victoria day, the amount of holiday pay collected will be $0. Employment Insurance benefits received during a leave or layoff do not count as wages, and thus will not be counted in the calculation of public holiday pay.
Employees with Reduced Hours
Employees who have reduced hours of work due to COVID- 19 are still eligible for public holiday pay. Specifically, if the employer has agreed to or imposed a reduced work schedule, and the employee works the full reduced shift before the holiday, they will qualify. However, as with leaves and layoffs, employees must have earned wages or vacation pay in the four work weeks before the public holiday, otherwise the amount to which they are entitled will be $0.
Victoria Day, this Year
For many, the May long weekend traditionally means getting the yard and garden ready for summer, and/or spending time with family and friends. However, for many, getting together with loved ones, and shopping for summer goods in the stores may be challenging or not possible. As the long weekend approaches, it is important to remember to socially distance and observe all guidance provided by government authorities. On that note, we wish you a safe and healthy long weekend.