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Working Wise: Holiday Pay

Dear Working Wise,

We don’t get paid holiday pay where I work. The owner says that we don’t work those days and so we don’t get paid. Is that right? I know other people who get paid even if they don’t work on the holiday. What if I work on the holiday? Do I just get regular pay or do I get paid overtime?
Signed, Suspicious

June 27, 2017

Dear Suspicious, 

Most workers in Alberta are entitled to be paid for general holidays.

To be eligible for general holiday pay, you must:

  • Work on the holiday if asked,
  • have worked at least 30 days for your employer in the preceding 12 months,
  • work your scheduled shift before and after the holiday (unless your employer excuses you),
  • normally work that day of the week, e.g., if you don't normally work on Wednesdays, you are not entitled to be paid for a general holiday that falls on a Wednesday,
  • not be working in an exempted occupation. Many commissioned salespeople, construction workers, and some other occupations are not eligible for general holiday pay.

If you would like to learn more, including which holidays are general holidays, check out Employment Standards' General Holidays tip sheet.  You can also see an easy-to-read chart on eligibility in Chapter 5 of the Employment Standards Tool Kit.

You were also wondering if you are entitled to overtime for working on the holiday. For clarification, it’s not overtime, it’s a premium rate of pay for working on a general holiday.

If you are entitled to general holiday pay, and the holiday falls on a usual work day, and you work on the holiday, then your employer must either:

  • pay you an amount that is at least your average daily wage, plus pay an amount that is at least 1.5 times your wage rate for each hour of work that you worked on the day, or
  • pay you an amount that is at least your wage rate for each hour worked, plus provide you with one day of holiday and general holiday pay for that day of an amount that is at least your average daily wage.

If you have any more questions relating to your situation, call the Alberta Employment Standards Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-427-3731.

To learn how to resolve your Holiday Pay concern with your employer, visit Employment Standards' Complaint page.

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