Canadian Small Business Public Holiday Checklist

With the festive season fast approaching, keep in mind there are specific days legislated for your employees to take as days off. It’s especially important to know your obligations this year with Christmas Day and New Year’s both falling on Sundays.

Here’s a handy Public Holiday Checklist to make sure you stay compliant this holiday season:

1. Do you have employees?

☐ Yes – proceed to question two
☐ No – no further action required

2. Do you normally open on your business on any of the following days?

☐ Christmas
☐ Boxing Day
☐ New Year’s
☐ No

Continue reading to understand obligations of Public Holiday Pay

3. Are you provincially or federally regulated?

Follow the links below to understand which holidays are observed by your province and how you should compensate your employees according to the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Information has been provided by CFIB Business Counsellors and/or a government site.

Federally Regulated Rules
British Columbia
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories

4. Contact your municipality or town regarding following:

☐ Can your business type/industry operate during holiday?

5. Are you clear on public holiday rules you should follow?

☐ Yes – keep record of:
☐ Public holiday taken by employees
☐ Rate of pay for day (according to information from ESA)
☐ If a day in lieu was provided (according to information from ESA)
☐ Do you have a written agreement with employees (according to information from ESA)

☐ No – Contact your Business Resources Regional Office at 1-888-234-2232 or email

☐ Also, contact your local employment standards office and check with city/town bylaws

CFIB has a partnership with Payworks. Payworks is an organization dedicated to providing you with payroll solutions. To learn more, visit Payworks to see how they can help you.

Caution: Not understanding these rules can lead to a potential violation of employment standards, potential audit/inspection and disgruntled employees.


CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.

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