General holidays and pay

Most employees (full and part-time) are entitled to general (stat) holidays with pay. New standards come into effect on January 1, 2018.

The legislation on this page comes into effect on January 1, 2018

For information on Employment Standards legislation that is in force until December 31, 2017, go to http://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards/general-holiday-pay.html

Basic rules

  • Most employees are entitled to take general holidays and receive general holiday pay immediately upon starting employment.
  • Most employees are entitled to general holidays and receive general holiday pay regardless of the day of the week the general holiday falls.
  • Employees who work a general holiday are entitled to either:
    • pay of 1.5 times what they would normally earn for the hours worked in addition to an amount that is their average daily wage, or
    • their standard wage rate for hours worked plus a day off at a future date and an amount that is their average daily wage for that day off.
  • Employees who don’t work on a general holiday and are eligible for general holiday pay must be paid at least their average daily wage.
  • Average daily wage calculated as 5% of the employee’s wages, general holiday pay and vacation pay in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday.

See Alberta’s general holidays for more information.

When a general holiday falls during a vacation

If an eligible employee is on vacation when a general holiday occurs, the employee can take off with pay 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.

General holiday pay and overtime

When an employee works on a general holiday, they are paid general holiday pay at least 1.5 times the employee’s wage rate unless the employer offers a day off in lieu with average daily wage for the day off. In which case, they receive their standard wage rate for the hours worked on the general holiday.

The hours worked on the holiday do not count when calculating overtime hours worked for the week in which the holiday falls.

Employee eligibility

Basic eligibility

Most employees are eligible for general holiday pay immediately upon employment. An employee is not entitled to holiday pay when they:

  • don’t work on a general holiday but are required or scheduled to do so, or
  • are absent from employment without consent of the employer on the employee’s last regular working day preceding, or first regular working day following, the general holiday.

Exempt occupations

The following employees aren’t 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

Construction workers

Due to the nature of the employment and work in the construction industry, construction employees are not usually given general holidays off with pay.

The Employment Standards Regulation creates special rules for on-site construction workers. These rules provide a benefit equal to that of employees in other industries who are given a day off with pay for each general holiday.

Construction employee rules specify that:

  • there’s no qualifying period of employment for construction employees to be entitled to general holiday pay
  • construction employees are not entitled to additional pay for working on general holidays, or to these days off with pay
  • both full-time and part-time construction employees are entitled to general holiday pay equal to 3.6% of the employee’s wages

General holiday pay must be paid to construction employees:

  • on or before December 31 of each year,
  • on termination of employment, or
  • on each pay period

Farm and ranch workers

Due to the nature of employment and work in the farm and ranch sector, waged, non-family farm and ranch employees are not usually given general holidays off with pay.

Farm and ranch employee rules specify that:

  • If an employee works on a general holiday, the employer must:
    • pay an amount that is at least equal to the employee’s wage rate for each hour of work on the general holiday
    • pay additional general holiday pay for the day of an amount that is at least 4.2% of the employee’s wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday
    • provide one day’s holiday on a day that would normally be a work day for the employee, to be taken within 30 days of the general holiday or at a later time agreed to, in writing, by the employer and employee
  • If an employee does not work on a general holiday, the employer must:
    • pay the employee general holiday pay of an amount that is at least 4.2% of the employee’s wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday

General holiday pay calculations

When an eligible employee works on a general holiday, the employer has 2 options:

  1. Pay average daily wage plus 1.5 times employee’s wage rate for all hours worked.
  2. Pay regular wages (and overtime, if applicable) plus provide a future day off with payment of average daily wage.

When an eligible employee does not work on a general holiday, the employee is entitled to their average daily wage.

General holiday pay for employees paid by incentive pay plans

Basic rules

Incentive pay plans include commission, flat rate, mileage or piecework compensation.

If an employee paid by incentive pay works on a general holiday, they’re entitled to their average daily wage plus 1.5 times the hourly wage.

If an employee paid by incentive pay does not work on the general holiday, they’re entitled to their average daily wage plus 5% of the wages, general holiday pay, and vacation pay earned in the 4 weeks preceding the holiday.

Calculating average hourly wage for incentive pay

To calculate the hourly wage for an employee paid by incentive pay, determine if the employee is paid entirely by commission or incentive pay or if they also earn a salary:

  • if an employee is paid entirely on commission or other incentive-based pay, then, for the purpose of calculating pay for time worked on a general holiday, the employee’s wage rate is deemed to be the minimum wage
  • if an employee is paid partly by salary and partly by commission or other incentive-based pay, then, for the purpose of calculating pay for time worked on a general holiday, the employee’s wage rate is based on the salary component of the wages if the salary component is greater than the minimum wage
    • if the salary component is less than the minimum wage, then the salary component is deemed to be the minimum wage

General holidays owed at termination

General holidays can be postponed to a later date. If an employee’s employment is terminated before a postponed holiday is taken, the following applies:

If the employer terminates the employment, the employee must receive:

  • an average daily wage, plus
  • 1.5 times the regular wage rate for all hours worked on the general holiday less any money previously paid for wages and overtime on the general holiday

If the employee quits, they will be paid the average daily wage for each general holiday deferred and still not taken.

See Termination and termination pay for more information.

How the law applies

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.