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Termination, vacation and more: a quick guide to B.C. employment standards

Some questions arise more frequently than others, regarding British Columbia’s employment standards and how they apply to your employees. These are the CFIB Counsellors’ greatest hits.

1. Termination of employment When you terminate an employee, they will be entitled to a legislated amount of working notice or pay in lieu of notice. They may also be entitled to severance pay under common law, which is different from termination entitlements under the Employment Standards Act. Lawyers are the only ones who can determine how much severance pay is due, but it is based upon things like seniority, age, number of years with the firm, benefits package and the current job market. Generally, severance ranges from one to four weeks of pay per year of service, to a maximum of 26 weeks. If an employee resigns (get it in writing), they are not due additional entitlements.

2. Statutory holidays If an employee is eligible for statutory holiday entitlements (i.e. have been employed for at least 30 days prior to the stat and collected wages 15 out of the last 30 days-this includes paid vacation-), and they work on the statutory holiday, you must compensate them.

Compensation must be 1.5x their day’s pay plus either an average day’s pay or a paid day off in lieu.

If they do not work the stat, regardless of whether they are hourly or salary, they must be compensated an average day’s pay.

Commissioned salespeople are excluded from the overtime and statutory holiday pay requirements if their earnings exceed what they would have earned at minimum wage or their base rate with those provisions applied (whichever is greater).

You are not required to offer a paid day off on a weekday if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday that you are normally closed.

3. Vacation entitlements Employees who have worked with the company for less than five years are entitled to two weeks’ paid vacation (10 business days), calculated at 4% of the previous year’s gross wages.

If they’ve been with your business for more than five years, they are entitled to three weeks’ paid vacation (15 business days), calculated at 6% of the previous year’s gross wages.

It is your responsibility to ensure that:

  • Employees take this vacation time each year (to be scheduled at your discretion – though employees must be able to take at least one week off at a time);
  • Employees are paid out their vacation each year (this can be added onto each pay cheque-with the employee’s written agreement- or can be paid out at least seven days before they take their vacation).


Vacation entitlements do not rollover and cannot be cumulative.

4. Overtime In B.C., employees are subject to overtime entitlements when:

  • They exceed 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week (they are compensated at 1.5x regular pay for extra time worked);
  • They exceed 12 hours in a day (they are compensated at 2x regular pay for extra time worked). There is no weekly double time.


You can require employees to work overtime if that it stipulated in their employment contract. If agreed to between you and the employee, overtime hours can also be banked and taken as a paid day off lieu (accumulated at overtime rates).

Overtime rates do not apply to managers, however, they are to be compensated at straight pay for overtime hours worked.

5. Sick days The Employment Standards Act does not account for sick days. This means that they are not paid (unless you, as the employer, choose to do so).

If an employee is sick, you may request a Doctor’s note confirming their illness/injury, after two consecutive missed.