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Optional holidays in Canada

What are optional holidays?

Optional holidays are commonly observed but not legally mandated. Businesses may choose to opt-in to optional holidays but they don’t have to.

If your workplace doesn’t observe an optional holiday, it is treated just like any other work day.

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How are statutory holidays different from optional holidays?

Statutory holidays are government-legislated and they are mandatory. On a statutory holiday, your employer is legally required to:

  • give you the day off, or
  • pay you more for working on the holiday

Employers may observe one or more optional holidays as well, but they are not obligated to do anything. Legally speaking, optional holidays are just normal workdays.

Why do employers observe optional holidays?

Employers might observe optional holidays for various reasons:

  • If you are unionized, your collective agreement may include optional holidays not legislated by your province
  • Some businesses shut down on days that schools and post offices are closed
  • Businesses may have traditionally observed an optional holiday, and it is now an expectation

Whatever the case may be, optional holidays are never guaranteed. Always check with your employer to make sure if optional holidays apply to you.

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