- There are 9 general holidays, also referred to as statutory holidays, in Alberta but employers can choose to recognize additional days as holidays.
- Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 30 workdays in the 12 months prior to the holiday.
- Holiday pay depends on whether:
- the holiday falls on a regular day of work
- the employee works on the holiday
- The same calculations of holiday pay apply to full-time, part-time, and casual employees.
- Interactive guide – general holidays
- Employer tool kit – general holidays
- Webinar – holidays and vacations
- Guide for employees
General holidays in Alberta
|New Year’s Day
|Alberta Family Day
|Third Monday in February
|Friday before Easter
|Monday before May 25
|July 1, except when it falls on a Sunday, then it is July 2
|First Monday in September
|Second Monday in October
Optional general holidays
Employers can choose to recognize additional days as holidays. If an employer recognizes an additional holiday, all employment standards rules related to holiday pay apply to these additional holidays.
Employees may ask their employer if they recognize any additional holidays.
Optional holidays can be any day an employer chooses to recognize. Some commonly recognized optional holidays in Alberta include:
|Definition of holiday
|First Monday following Easter
|First Monday in August
|National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Most employees are entitled to general holidays and receive general holiday pay if one of the following applies to them:
- a general holiday is a regular day of work
- they have worked on a general holiday that is not a regular day of work
An employee is not entitled to general holiday pay if they:
- have worked fewer than 30 workdays in the 12 months prior to the holiday
- are absent from work on a general holiday when they are required or scheduled to work
- are absent from work the last scheduled day before the holiday or the first scheduled day after the holiday and they do not have their employer’s consent for the absence
The same rules apply whether a business is open or closed on a holiday.
When Employment Standards rules apply
All of the following criteria must be met to be covered by Alberta Employment Standards:
Work performed in Alberta
Alberta Employment Standards only cover employees who perform their work in Alberta. The location of the head office or corporate registration of the employer is not relevant, only where the work is done.
Work in a provincially regulated industry
Most employees in Alberta are regulated by the province. Some industries are regulated by the federal government. If an employer’s industry is federally regulated, different rules apply.
To find if your industry is federally regulated, see Federally regulated industries.
Classified as an employee (vs. a contractor)
Employment standards rules only apply to employees. They do not apply to contractors or self-employed individuals.
If you are a contractor or self-employed and are experiencing workplace issues, you may wish to seek legal counsel.
Some employees are not eligible for general holidays and general holiday pay:
- salespersons selling automobiles, recreational vehicles, trucks, buses, manufactured homes, farm machinery, and heavy-duty construction and road equipment
- registered or licensed salespersons selling investments, stocks or bonds
- authorized salespersons of real estate and salespersons selling homes for the builder of those homes
- licensed insurance salespersons who are paid entirely by commission income
- salespersons, other than route salespersons, who solicit orders principally outside the employer’s place of business and are paid in whole or in part by commission
- extras in a film or video production
- counsellors or instructors at an educational or recreational camp that is operated on a charitable or not-for-profit basis for: children, handicapped individuals or religious purposes
- salespersons who are at least 16 years old and are engaged in direct selling for licensed direct sellers
Some employees have different rules for general holidays and general holiday pay:
Regular days of work
The first step in finding out what is owed for a general holiday is to see if the general holiday falls on a regular day of work.
A day is a regular day of work if an employee normally works on that day. Other days are not regular days of work.
For example, if an employee is scheduled Monday to Friday each week, then Monday to Friday are regular days of work and Saturday and Sunday are not regular days of work.
Employees who do not work the same days every week
If an employee works different days every week, some days in their schedule may still be considered regular days of work. Regular days of work are days that an employee works most of the time.
Regular days are determined by looking at whether an employee worked at least 5 times on that day in the previous 9 weeks. This rule is sometimes called ‘The 5 of 9 rule’.
Example – the 5 of 9 rule
Labour Day falls on a Monday. Looking back at the previous 9 Mondays before Labour Day, an employee worked on 5 of them. For this Labour Day, Monday is considered a regular day of work for the employee.
This does not mean that Monday is always a regular day of work for this employee. For each future holiday, the 5 of 9 rule would need to be used again to determine if that day is a regular day of work.
Not working on a regular day of work
The next thing to consider is whether the employee works on the holiday.
An employee is entitled to their average daily wage.
When a holiday falls during a vacation
If an employee is on vacation when a general holiday occurs, the employee can take a day off with pay on the first scheduled working day after their vacation. Or, in agreement with their employer, they can take another day that would otherwise have been a work day before their next annual vacation.
In either case, the employee is entitled to their average daily wage for the day off.
Working on a regular day of work
There are 2 options that the employer can choose between:
The employer can choose to pay an employee 1.5 times what they would normally earn for the hours worked (sometimes called ‘time and a half’) and also pay their average daily wage.
The hours worked on the holiday do not count when calculating overtime hours worked for the week in which the holiday falls.
The employer can choose to provide a future day off and pay of the employee’s average daily wage for that day. This is sometimes called a day off in lieu of the holiday or a day lieu. If this option is chosen, the general holiday is treated like a standard workday and overtime is calculated as normal (if applicable).
For example, an employer may decide that an employee should work on Labour Day and give Boxing Day off as the future day off. The employee earns their standard wage rate for hours worked on Labour Day. They also earn overtime (if applicable) on Labour Day since it is treated as a standard workday. On Boxing Day, they receive the day off and their average daily wage.
When employment ends before the future day off is taken
If employment ends before a future day off is taken, what is owed depends on whether the employee or the employer terminated employment.
If the employer terminates employment, the employee must receive the following for each future day off not yet taken:
- The employee’s average daily wage plus 1.5 times the regular wage rate for all hours worked on the general holiday (time and a half). Any money previously paid for wages and overtime on the general holiday can be subtracted from this amount.
If the employee quits, they must be paid average daily wage for each future day off not yet taken.
See Termination and termination pay for more information.
Average daily wage
Average daily wage is calculated as the employee's wages divided by the number of days the employee worked.
Employers can choose between two options for the time period used in the calculation:
- the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday, or
- the 4 weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that immediately preceded the general holiday
Overtime pay is not considered wages and so is not included in the calculation of average daily wage.
Example average daily wage calculation
A general holiday is on Monday, February 15. A company’s last pay period prior to the general holiday ended on Sunday, February 7.
To calculate the average daily wage, the employer can choose between:
Option 1: 4 weeks before the holiday
The calculation period is between January 17 and February 14. If the employee worked 10 days and earned $1000 in wages, then:
- Average daily wage = wages earned ($1000) ÷ days worked (10) = $100
Option 2: 4 weeks before the end of the last pay period
The calculation period is between January 10 and February 7. If the employee worked 10 days and earned $1500 in wages, then:
- Average daily wage = wages earned ($1500) ÷ days worked (10) = $150
Example calculations of general holiday pay on a regular day of work
An employee works regular hours 5 days per week and makes $25 per hour. In the 4 weeks (28 days) leading up to the July 1 holiday (between June 3 and June 30), the employee worked 20 days and made $4000 in wages. The employee is paid for 8 hours every day that they work.
In this example, the employer chooses to use the 4 weeks immediately before the holiday to calculate holiday pay.
To calculate how much the employee should be paid for the general holiday:
- Average daily wage = $4000 (wage earned in 4 weeks) ÷ 20 days worked = $200
- The total owed is based on whether the employee works on the general holiday.
Summary of general holiday pay for regular work day
If the employee does not work on the holiday:
- Average daily wage of $200
If the employee works on the holiday, there are 2 options:
- Option 1 - Hours worked x hourly wage x 1.5
- 8 hours x $25/hour x 1.5 = $300
- Option 2 – Hours worked x hourly wage + future day off at average daily wage
- 8 hours x $25/hour = $200 + future day off at $200
Rules if not a regular day of work
The next thing to consider is whether the employee works on the holiday.
If the employee does not work on a day that is not a regular day of work, the employee is not eligible for holiday pay nor entitled to a day off in lieu with pay.
If the employee works on a day that is not a regular day of work, the employee must be paid 1.5 times what they would normally earn for the hours worked (sometimes called ‘time and a half’). The hours worked on the holiday do not count when calculating overtime hours worked for the week in which the holiday falls.
Example calculation of general holiday – not a regular day of work
An employee makes $25 per hour and works an irregular schedule. The general holiday falls on a Monday. The employee has only worked 3 Mondays in the 9 weeks prior to the holiday. Following the 5 of 9 rule, Monday is not a regular day of work. The employee is paid 8 hours every day that they work.
If the employee does not work on the holiday, the employee is not eligible for holiday pay.
If the employee works on the holiday, the employee is paid for the hours worked x hourly wage x 1.5 (8 hours x $25/hour x 1.5 = $300).
Employees paid other than hourly
For salaried employees, simplified general holiday calculations are permitted.
If a general holiday falls on a regular workday, an employee may receive the day off work and their full salary for the day.
If a general holiday does not fall on a regular workday and the employee does not work on the holiday, no general holiday pay is owed. Employees are also not entitled to a day off in lieu with pay.
Commissions and incentive pay
Some employees are paid based on commissions or what is produced rather than hours worked. This is called incentive pay and can include commissions, flat rates, mileage or piecework.
Employees paid by incentive pay are eligible for general holiday pay if they meet the eligibility requirements listed above. The main difference for employees paid incentive pay is that a calculation is needed to determine the hourly rate of pay to use in the calculations.
Average daily wage
For average daily wage calculations, the calculation does not change since an hourly rate of pay is not part of the calculation. Use the standard calculation explained above.
Remember that performance-related bonuses (bonuses based on hours of work, production, or efficiency) count as wages.
Pay for hours worked on a holiday
Hours worked on a holiday are paid at 1.5 times the employee’s hourly wage rate. For employee’s paid by incentive pay, a calculation is needed to make sure the hourly wage rate is at least the minimum wage that applies to the employee.
If an employee is paid entirely by incentive pay, the employee’s wage rate is deemed to be the minimum wage.
If an employee is paid partly by salary and partly by incentive pay, the employee’s wage rate is deemed to be the larger of:
- the employee’s actual wage rate
- the minimum wage
The calculated wage rate is then used in the standard calculations explained above.
Make a complaint
If an employee thinks that their employer is not following the rules in the Employment Standards Code, they can make a complaint.
Complaints can be made while an employee is still employed and at any time up to 6 months after their last day of employment.
Employment Standards Code
Part 2, Division 5 of the Employment Standards Code provides the general requirements and entitlement to general holidays and general holiday pay.
Part 4 of the Employment Standards Regulation provides different rules for general holidays and general holiday pay for construction employees.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.