There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about Holiday Pay and in what circumstances an employee is entitled to their pay. Holiday Pay is dealt with in the Alberta Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000 c, E-9, in sections 25 through 33. Section 26, for instance, sets out that an employee is entitled to holiday pay if the employee has worked 30 days or more in the 12 months preceding the general holiday. However, that is not the end of the analysis – an employee is only entitled to holiday pay if the holiday falls on a day they would otherwise be working. For instance, if a general holiday falls on a Saturday and a particular employee works a Monday to Friday schedule they are not entitled to holiday pay. However if the holiday falls on a Monday, that same employee is due their holiday pay – an amount equal to that employee’s daily wage if they do not work on the holiday or 1.5 times their daily wage if they do work.

In recent years compressed work weeks have become more and more common and they have a number of very tangible benefits, but they can also have a significant impact on holiday pay entitlement. Generally, compressed work weeks involve employees working longer hours, four days a week as opposed to the traditional 8 hours a day, five days a week. Often these compressed work weeks involve a Tuesday through Friday schedule which means that those employees are not entitled to holiday pay for holiday Mondays. The Code sets out that if a holiday falls on a day that the employee would have otherwise worked, but did not work because of the holiday, that employee is due their daily wages regardless. The other side of that coin is that if an employee does not normally work on the day on which the holiday falls, they are not due holiday pay.

Another common situation an employee may find themselves in is working an irregular schedule. This is common for restaurant workers and other employees who work shifts. Entitlement for these employees is governed by section 27 of the Employment Standards Code:

Resolving doubts about general holiday pay entitlements
27(1) If an employee works an irregular schedule and there is doubt about whether a general holiday is on a day that would normally have been a work day for the employee, the doubt is to be resolved in accordance with subsection (2).
(2) If in at least 5 of the 9 weeks preceding the work week in which the general holiday occurs the employee worked on the same day of the week as the day on which the general holiday falls, the general holiday is to be considered a day that would normally have been a work day for the employee.

Essentially if an employee does not “normally” work on a Monday, they are not entitled to Holiday Pay for a holiday Monday. Section 27(2) provides a formula to determine whether an employee who sometimes works Mondays would be due their holiday pay – “normally” being defined as whether the employee worked that day of the week in 5 out of the 9 preceding weeks.

One final wrinkle to holiday pay entitlement is when a general holiday falls during a time when the employee is taking their annual vacation, for example a holiday Monday that the employee normally would work, but that falls during a week that employee has taken off for their annual vacation. The Code sets out that that employee has to be provided a day off in lieu of the holiday Monday and that day off must be tacked on to the end of their vacation, or at some other agreed upon date so long as that date is not before the employee takes their next annual vacation. However, if a general holiday falls on a Saturday and the employee is a Monday to Friday employee, they are not entitled to holiday pay in the first place and therefore that employee is not entitled to a day off in lieu either.

In short the point of providing holiday pay is to replace the pay of an employee who did not (or could not due to their workplace being closed) work on a day they otherwise would have worked due to that day being a holiday; or to compensate an employee who works on a holiday for the loss of that day off. An employee who does not “normally” work on the day of the week that a holiday falls on should not be entitled to the benefit of holiday pay because they have not “lost” wages the way that an employee who would “normally” work that day would otherwise have lost.

Disclaimer
This post is intended to provide general information concerning developments in the law and is not intended to provide legal advice in respect of any particular situation.