Working and statutory holidays

What are my rights?

I was hired two weeks before Christmas. My boss gave me Christmas Day off but didn't pay me for the stat holiday. Is this legal?
  • Yes
  • No

There are 10 statutory (or “stat”) holidays in British Columbia each year. A stat holiday is essentially a paid day off. But some workers have to work stat holidays. Others may not be eligible to get paid when they get the day off. Learn your rights as a worker when it comes to statutory holidays.

What you should know

Whether employment standards law applies to you

A key factor affecting your rights around statutory holidays is whether you’re covered by the Employment Standards Act. This is the main law protecting workers in BC. It sets out rules for statutory holidays

This law applies to “employees” — which covers most but not all workers in the province. For example, independent contractors aren’t covered by it. Nor are people working in certain licensed professions. For more, see our guidance on who’s covered by BC’s employment standards law.

As well, note the statutory holiday rules under employment standards law don’t apply to managers.

What your employment contract says

A second factor that comes into play is your employment contract. It may spell out your rights around stat holidays. 

(Note there’s always an employment contract between a worker and an employer, even if nothing is in writing.)

Your contract rights may be greater than what employment standards law provides for. But — if you’re covered by employment standards law — whatever your contract says about stat holidays, it can’t be any less than the minimum entitlements under the law. 

There are ten statutory holidays per year in BC

The 10 statutory holidays in BC are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Family Day

  • Good Friday

  • Victoria Day

  • Canada Day

  • BC Day

  • Labour Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Remembrance Day

  • Christmas Day

See the provincial government’s information on statutory holidays for a list of BC statutory holiday dates for the next few years.  

The following are not statutory holidays in BC:

  • Easter Sunday

  • Easter Monday

  • Boxing Day

Substituting a stat holiday

You may have the right to substitute a statutory holiday and take another paid day off instead. See below.

You may be entitled to statutory holiday pay

“This past Thanksgiving, my employer gave me the day off but didn’t pay me for it. I was told only full-time employees get paid for stat holidays — I was working part-time. Then I found out part-timers who work at least 15 days in the month before the holiday are entitled to stat holiday pay. I told my employer. They agreed to pay me for Thanksgiving.”

– Omar, Vancouver

On a statutory holiday, eligible workers covered by the Employment Standards Act (see if you’re covered) are entitled to either: 

  • the day off with pay (referred to as "statutory holiday pay"), or

  • extra pay for working on the holiday. 

To be eligible for statutory holiday pay 

To be eligible for statutory holiday pay, a worker must:

  • have been employed for at least 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday, and

  • have worked or earned wages for 15 of the 30 days before the statutory holiday.

Workers who have worked under an averaging agreement at any time in the 30 days before the holiday don’t have to meet the 15-day requirement.

How to calculate statutory holiday pay

An eligible worker who is given the day off on a statutory holiday is entitled to an average day’s pay. If the holiday falls on a regular day off, the worker is still entitled to be paid. 

An average day’s pay is calculated by dividing total wages earned in the 30 days before the statutory holiday by the number of days worked. Total wages includes wages, commissions, statutory holiday pay, and vacation pay. It doesn’t include overtime pay.

For example, say you earned $2,000 in the 30 days before Canada Day. During that period, you worked 20 days. Your average day’s pay is:

$2,000 divided by 20 days = $100

You would get the day off work on Canada Day and be paid $100. 

You may be entitled to a paid vacation

In addition to statutory holidays, you may also be entitled to a paid annual vacation. See our information on taking a vacation.

If you’re required to work on a statutory holiday

An eligible worker covered by the Employment Standards Act who works on a statutory holiday is entitled to be paid extra. (See the section above for what makes a worker eligible.) 

The worker is entitled to:

  • an average day’s pay (see the section above), in addition to their regular wages for that day

  • one and a half times their regular wage for any time worked beyond eight hours (up to 12 hours)

  • double their regular wage for any time worked over 12 hours

You can substitute another day for a statutory holiday

“In my faith we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan. My employer had me scheduled to work that day. I asked if I could have the day off and swap it out for an official stat holiday like Easter or Christmas. He said no problem — and actually apologized for not thinking of that option!"

– Maya, New Westminster

Workers covered by the Employment Standards Act have the right to substitute another day off for a statutory holiday if their employer agrees. Your employer can make the substitution for a group of workers, as long as the majority of them agree. 

Once the substitution is made, all the rules that normally apply to statutory holidays apply to the substituted day. 

Work out problems

Step 1. Discuss the situation with your employer

If you don’t think you’ve been treated fairly in terms of a statutory holiday, raise the issue with your employer. Bring any paperwork that supports your position — for example, your employment contract and a pay stub for the period leading up to any stat holiday in question. 

Tips for having a conversation with your employer

Approaching your boss can be stressful. We offer tips for talking with your employer

Step 2. Write to your employer

If discussing the issue with your employer doesn’t work, consider putting your request in writing. Explain your concerns and your interest in working together to find a solution. You could say something like:

“Under the BC Employment Standards Act, employees are entitled to an average day’s pay on a statutory holiday. This year, I wasn’t paid for Labour Day. I believe the stat holiday rules apply. [Modify to fit your situation.] I’d like to meet with you to explore solutions to this issue as soon as possible.”

We provide tips for writing a letter to your employer

Keep a copy of the letter for your files. Having a written record will be useful if you need to take additional steps.

Step 3. Make an employment standards complaint

If you aren’t able to resolve things directly with your employer, you can make a formal complaint. If you’re covered by BC employment standards law, you can make a complaint to the Employment Standards Branch. This government office helps workers and employers resolve problems. For what’s involved, see our guidance on making an employment standards complaint.

Common questions

What if a statutory holiday falls on my day off?

If you’re eligible for statutory holiday pay, and a holiday falls on a day when you aren’t scheduled to work, you’re still entitled to an average day’s pay. See the “What you should know" section above. 

What do I earn if I work a statutory holiday but I’m not eligible for statutory holiday pay?

If you work on a stat holiday but you aren’t eligible for statutory holiday pay, you would be paid as if it were a regular work day (unless your employment contract says differently). 

Who can help

Helpful agencies

Employment Standards Branch
The BC government office that deals with complaints against employers.
Employment and Social Development Canada
Deals with complaints against employers in federally-regulated industries.

  • Reviewed in October 2018
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 6 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Carolyn Janusz, Victory Square Law Office LLP and Valerie Dixon, City of Vancouver

Carolyn Janusz
Valerie Dixon

Was this helpful?

Also on this topic

Work it out

Farm workers: Your rights around getting paid

Work it out

If your employer hasn't paid you

Work it out

Hours of work and working overtime

Need to know

Earning the minimum wage

Webinar

EI and Emergency Benefits for Workers

Still not sure what to do?

If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, there are options for free or low-cost help.

Options for legal help