Vacations, Vacation Pay and Annual Holidays
Please note that due to significant changes in Provincial Employment Standards we are in the process of updating our website to reflect current standards.
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An employee's right to annual vacation with pay was first legislated in Ontario in 1944 under the Hours of Work and Vacations with Pay Act. The Act meant most employers in Ontario were required to provide their employees with one paid week of vacation per year. It wasn’t long until a number of other provinces such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta (1946), and Manitoba (1947) passed their own legislation regarding paid vacations. By 1970, all the other provinces had legislated some form of paid vacation. While there have been improvements in vacation entitlement over the years, the rules vary by province.
Determining your rights can be a daunting task. It requires careful reading of the appropriate section(s) of legislation and corresponding regulations. In addition there are numerous exceptions and exemptions that may need to be considered. We present below general guidelines on key points, with links to some of the legislation relevant to paid vacations, vacation pay and annual holidays.
Basic entitlement is two weeks of paid vacation after one year of employment; this increases to three weeks after five years of working for the same employer.
• You should take your vacation sometime in the 12 months following the year in which it was earned. It is your right to take it in one unbroken period.
• Vacations should be scheduled by mutual agreement. If that does not occur, the employer is permitted to determine when your vacation will be taken, but must give you two weeks' notice.
• Vacation pay is calculated as a percentage (either four or six per cent, depending on length of service) of your wages for the year in which it was earned. In Alberta, wages do not include overtime or holiday pay.
In British Columbia completion of 12 months of continuous employment entitles full- and part-time workers to two weeks vacation (three weeks after five years) and vacation pay.
• It is contingent on your employer to ensure you take your vacation within one year of earning it.
• Vacation pay is calculated as to four per cent (six per cent after five years) of earnings, which includes vacation pay earned from the preceding year.
• Your employer has the right to schedule your vacation. However, it cannot be done in a manner that would prevent you from having less than one-week periods.
Employees covered by the Canada Labour Code are entitled to two weeks of vacation after one year and three weeks after six.
• You must be allowed to take your vacation no later than 10 months following the period in which it was earned.
• You can make a written request to your employer (who must agree) to forgo vacation time and receive the vacation pay earned.
• Vacation pay (four per cent or six per cent after six years) calculations are based on annual wages, including overtime, statutory holiday pay, vacation pay, bereavement leave, time worked on holidays and "any other remuneration an employee is entitled to under his or her contract of employment ... for work performed."
The basic entitlement in Manitoba is two weeks vacation after one year of employment, increasing to three weeks after five years.
• Vacation pay (four per cent; six per cent after five years) is based on your regular wages (for the year in which the vacation was earned), including commissions, bonuses and holiday pay, but does not include overtime, previous years' vacation pay or any money received in lieu of notice.
• You employer can decide when to issue vacation pay, but you must receive it no later than 10 months following the year in which it was earned.
• It is also up to your employer to determine when you may take vacation, but you must be given 15 days' notice. Your employer cannot schedule a vacation period that is less than one week.
In New Brunswick you are entitled to two weeks of vacation or one day for each month worked in the year, whichever is less. Only after you have completed eight years of continuous employment are you entitled to three weeks of vacation or 1.25 days per each month worked in the previous year.
• You must receive your vacation no later than four months after the vacation pay year ends (July 1 to June 30 of the following year).
• Vacation pay calculations are based on your regular wages, but do not include statutory holiday pay, vacation pay, pay in lieu of vacation, gratuities or honoraria.
• Your employer must provide you a minimum one-week notice of the start of your vacation period.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Basic entitlement in Newfoundland and Labrador is two weeks after being employed a minimum 12 months and worked at least 90 per cent of available hours. After 15 years of continuous employment, you are eligible for an additional week of vacation.
• You can take your vacation no later than 10 months following the year in which you earned it. Your vacation may be taken in one- or two-week periods.
• Your employer is allowed to determine when you take your vacation, but you must receive two weeks' written notice. If your employer cancels your vacation, you must be reimbursed for all reasonable expenses you incurred as a result.
• Vacation pay is calculated on the basis of all wages, including commissions and overtime.
You are entitled to two weeks vacation in Nova Scotia after working 12 months; three weeks after eight years on a continuous basis with the same employer.
• You take your vacation within the 10-month period following the year in which it was earned. Full-time employees must take their vacations.
• Your employer can determine when you take vacation, but must give you one week advance notice. If you and your employer agree, you can break your vacation into separate periods, provided you take at least one week of unbroken vacation a year.
Employment Standards in Ontario provide for two weeks of paid vacation per year which must be taken during the 10 month period following the year the vacation was earned.
• Your employer can decide when you will take vacation.
• You have the option in Ontario of giving up your vacation time if your employer agrees in writing and the request is approved by the Director of Employment Standards. You would receive the vacation pay you are owed, in addition to any wages you earn.
• Vacation pay is a minimum four per cent of gross wages earned in the 12-month entitlement period. Wages include commissions, overtime, bonuses, holiday pay and any termination pay you received.
Prince Edward Island
In Prince Edward Island you are entitled to two weeks of paid vacation upon completion of 12 months of work.
• You can take your vacation within four months of having earned it unless you agree with your employer to do otherwise.
• Scheduling of vacations is at the employer's discretion, but you must be given at least a week's notice.
You are entitled to two weeks of vacation in Quebec after 12 consecutive months of employment; this increases to three weeks after five years.
• Your employer determines when you take vacation (it must be uninterrupted) and must give you four weeks' advance notice.
• If you are entitled to only two weeks of vacation, your employer must honour your request for an additional week of unpaid leave, but you cannot insist it be taken in conjunction with your paid vacation.
Full- and part-time, casual, temporary or seasonal employees in Saskatchewan are entitled to a holiday (vacation) equal to three weeks after 12 months worked. This increases to four weeks after 10 years with the same employer.
• Holidays should be scheduled by mutual agreement although a final decision is up to the employer, who must give you at least four weeks' written notice.
• You are entitled to take all of your annual holiday in a single period.
• Your holiday pay is calculated as a percentage (six per cent; eight per cent after 10 years) of your wages, which include bonuses, overtime, commissions, annual holiday pay and any other payment for services.
• With the agreement of your employer and Labour Standards (government department), you can relinquish your holiday but must still receive holiday pay.
• If your employer cancels your holiday, you must be reimbursed for expenses such as lost deposits, penalties, etc.