Calgary Legal Guidance

Holiday Pay

The topics here provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service (formerly Dial-A-Law), is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic discusses Holiday Pay.

Employment Standards Code

The basic rights and responsibilities of most employers and employees in Alberta are outlined in the Employment Standards Code also known as the “Code”. The Code is a set of provincial laws that establishes, among other things, the amount employees are paid on holidays. The following days are general holidays in Alberta:

  • New Year’s Day;
  • Alberta Family Day;
  • Good Friday;
  • Victoria Day;
  • Canada Day;
  • Labour Day;
  • Thanksgiving Day;
  • Remembrance Day; and
  • Christmas Day.

Eligibility for Holiday Pay

An employee is entitled to general holiday pay if they have worked for at least 30 workdays in the previous 12 months prior to the above noted general holidays. Most employees are entitled to general holiday pay and to receive holiday pay if their regular workday falls on a general holiday, or if they have worked a general holiday that is not part of their regular schedule of work. Please see at the end of this document, the list of exemptions to this, and this will pertain to commissioned salespeople and other incentivized workers, as well as the construction industry has its own rules for holiday pay.


An employee is not entitled to general holiday pay when they are scheduled to work the holiday, but do not.  Or if the employee is absent without the employer’s consent on the day preceding the holiday, or the first working day after the holiday.

Eligibility for Workers with Irregular hours

An employee can get general holiday pay if their regular working day falls on a holiday. For those employees with irregular shifts, if they look at the 9 previous weeks before the holiday ( if for example the holiday falls on a Monday) and if they work 5 out of 9 of those days, then they are eligible for general holiday pay. This is referred to as the “5 of 9” rule.

Entitlement Chart for General Holiday Pay

Employee Works Regular Day Employee Does Not Works Regular Day Employee Works Non-Regular Day Employee Does Not Works Non-Regular Day
Hours worked × Hourly wage × 1.5 + average daily wage OR hours worked × hourly wage + (future day off) at average hourly wage
Average Daily wage = 5 % × (wages (last 28 days) + general holiday pay + vacation pay) No pay
Hours worked × Hourly wage × 1.5

If an employee, on their regular working day, does not work, they are entitled to their average daily wage. Which is calculated in the following way:

Average wage is = 5 % × wages last 28 days + vacation pay (0.04 of wages in 28 days) + general holiday pay (if there was any general holidays)

For example, let us pretend you make $20.00 hour, and you work a standard 8-hour day, Monday to Friday.

Now, in the past 4 weeks of work, there was one general holiday, so your general holiday pay would be same as your wage for a regular workday.

Vacation pay is 0.04 × ($20.00 × 8 hours a day × 20 shifts out of last 4 weeks) = is $128.00 for your 4-week period before the general holiday.

Putting all this back into the average wage equation is = 5% ($ 3200.00) which is wage for 28 days including one general holiday pay + 128.00 vacation pay)

Average daily wage for this example would be $166.40

Looking back at the chart, if this was your regular working day, and you worked the general holiday, you would be entitled to your hours worked × wage per hour × 1.5 in addition to your average daily wage, example calculation shown above.

OR you would be entitled to your hourly wage × hours worked + plus a paid day off in future paid at your average daily wage.

Now if the general holiday is not your day of work and you do work, your entitlement according to the chart is your hours worked × wages/hour × 1.5. If it is not your regular day of work and you do not work the general holiday, you are not entitled to general holiday pay.

Holiday Pay owed at Termination of Employment

If an employee is terminated before a postponed holiday is taken, then an average daily wage is owed plus 1.5 times the regular hourly rate times hours worked less any wages taken as overtime.

Holiday Pay if General Holiday falls During Vacation

The employee can take off with pay the first scheduled working day after his/her vacation or have an agreement with their employer to take another day off with pay before their next vacation.


The following groups of workers are exempt from the general holiday pay rules as it pertains to Alberta Employment Standards 2020. This list is not exhaustive, and the reader should look more closely at the Alberta Employment Standards Rules. This list includes salespeople and other incentivized workers (commission) who sell autos, farm equipment, insurance, investments and ranch and farm workers. Those workers in the construction industry get their vacation pay, paid out by different rules than the above.

Free Legal Info (formerly Dial-A-Law), is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

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