Employee Pay and Statutory Holidays in Alberta

Kiljon Shukullari

January 03 2021

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code (ESC) sets out certain rules for employers during statutory (general) holidays to ensure that employees get proper time off, correct pay and know when they are working. The next statutory holiday in Alberta is Family Day, on Monday, February 15. Now is the time to review and understand what your employer obligations are during general holidays.

What is a Statutory Holiday in Alberta?

Statutory holidays, in Alberta, are paid general holidays during which most employees are entitled to the day off. Alberta has nine general holidays:

  • New Year’s Day: Friday, January 1, 2021
  • Alberta Family Day: Monday, February 15, 2021
  • Good Friday: Friday, April 2, 2021
  • Victoria Day: Monday, May 24, 2021
  • Canada Day: Thursday, July 1, 2021
  • Labour Day: Monday, September 6, 2021
  • Thanksgiving Day: Monday, October 11, 2021
  • Remembrance Day: Thursday, November 11, 2021
  • Christmas Day: Saturday, December 25, 2021

The following are 3 optional general holidays employers can give off to their employees, but they are not obligated to do this:

  • Easter Monday: April 5, 2021
  • Heritage Day: Monday, August 2, 2021
  • Boxing Day: Sunday, December 26, 2021

Which Employees are Eligible for Statutory Holiday Entitlements?

Almost all employees in Alberta are eligible for general holidays off and holiday pay once they begin employment. To receive holiday pay, employees must: 

  • work their last scheduled workday before the statutory holiday and their next scheduled workday immediately after the statutory holiday (unless employer consent is given for the absence)
  • work on the holiday if they are required and scheduled to do so
  • have worked for the same employer for at least 30 workdays in the 12 months prior to the holiday

How is Statutory Holiday Pay Calculated in Alberta?

If employees do not work on a general holiday, they are paid their average daily wage. 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.

Under the new changes made to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, it is now simpler to calculate general holiday pay. Employers no longer have to include vacation pay or general holiday pay in the average daily wage calculation. To calculate the average daily wage, employers can choose to divide the total wages earned by the number of days worked in either:

  • the four weeks immediately preceding the general holiday, or
  • the four weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that immediately preceded the general holiday

Does your employee handbook include a policy for statutory holiday time off?

If you are unsure about your employer responsibilities during statutory holidays in Alberta, we can help. Consult our HR experts at 1 (833) 247-3652 to get advice on managing employees’ time off and to get help with calculating statutory holiday pay.  

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