Explained: Good Friday and Easter Monday stat holiday legislation

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In Canada, not all employees are entitled to the same days off work – whether or not businesses are closed for federal and provincial statutory (stat) holidays depends on the province in which they’re located. Navigating stat holiday legislation can be tricky, but Payworks is here to help.

Let’s start with some definitions:

  • Federal statutory holiday – a holiday legislated at the federal jurisdictional level that applies to employees of the federal government and federally-regulated workplaces. Visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/workplace/federally-regulated-industries.html for a list of federally-regulated industries and workplaces.
  • Provincial/Territorial statutory holiday – a holiday legislated at the provincial or territorial jurisdictional level. Generally, employees working within that province or territory are entitled to a day off with pay. Not all provinces and territories across Canada recognize the same stat holidays and there are varying rates of general holiday pay (see more on that below!) for employees who work on a provincial stat holiday. For a comprehensive overview of stat holidays across jurisdictions, visit: https://www.payworks.ca/payroll-legislation/statholidays.asp.

Two holidays that often generate a lot of questions are Good Friday and Easter Monday! Here’s what you need to know about stat holiday legislation as it applies to those two days:

Good Friday is a stat holiday under the Canada Labour Code, as well as in nine provinces and three territories. In the Province of Québec, employers have the option to choose either Good Friday or Easter Monday as a statutory holiday or non-working day with pay. Generally, businesses across Canada are closed and employees are entitled to receive a day off, a day off with pay or compensation in lieu of time off.

However, there are exceptions to Good Friday business closure regulations in some jurisdictions, specifically for retailers. For instance, retailers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are closed; in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, retailers are permitted to open as long as employees are paid according to the law. In jurisdictions such as Ontario and Manitoba, most retailers are closed but there are municipal-level exceptions.

Employees who work on Good Friday are entitled to general holiday pay. The rate at which this is calculated also differs between jurisdictions in Canada. For a consolidated resource of Canadian legislative and regulatory information, including stat holidays and general holiday pay information, download Payworks’ Payroll Guide: https://info.payworks.ca/en-ca/payroll-guide-for-canadian-business.

Easter Monday generally is not a stat holiday and is a typical working day in most provinces and territories across Canada, but there are a few exceptions…

  • Easter Monday is an optional provincial statutory holiday in the Province of Québec (it’s at the employer's discretion whether they close for Good Friday or Easter Monday).
  • In the Province of Alberta, Easter Monday is an optional general holiday (it’s at the employer’s discretion whether or not their business will be open).

Have further questions? Payworks clients can reach out to their dedicated Client Service Representative any time for more information. Payworks’ resource section is also a great place to explore more Canadian payroll legislation: https://www.payworks.ca/payroll-resources.asp.

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