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Vacation rules and scheduling: how to enjoy a stress-free holiday season

You and your employees enjoy your vacations; yet planning to fit them into the business cycle while meeting employee’s expectations can be challenging. It is important for you to communicate to your employees how vacations are earned, requested and approved. This way, you can continue to effectively manage your business.

Here are some vacation examples you may encounter:

  1. An employee lets everyone know they are taking three weeks off and they have booked a family vacation and they haven’t received approval for the time off. It is your busiest time of year and you’ve already approved a member of the team to take that same time off for their wedding.
  2. An employee doesn’t come back from vacation the day you expected them to, and when they do come back two days later, say that they are sure you approved the longer time off with pay.
  3. An employee has put in their notice and wants to make sure that their 4 weeks of vacation pay will be included with their last pay cheque, but you are pretty sure they’ve already taken all their earned time off with pay.

The Employment Standards Code outlines the minimum vacation requirements for any employees.

Here are some frequently asked questions by business owners like you!

Who doesn't earn vacation?

Vacation does not apply to someone that is considered a contractor.

Who earns vacation?

All employees (full time, part time, seasonal or temporary) are entitled to vacation.

Most employees are entitled to vacation time and vacation pay after being employed for one year.

However, upon employee request and employer’s acceptance, an employee can take vacation with pay before completing a full 12 months of employment.

  • Employers must provide an annual vacation to most employees based on length of service to make sure they can rest from work without loss of income.
  • Employers must give vacation time, and employees must take the vacation to which they’re entitled.
  • Employees must work for one year before they’re entitled to vacation time

How much vacation does an employee get?

Employees are entitled to these minimum paid vacations:

  1. Two weeks, after each of the first five years of employment with your company
  2. Three weeks, after the sixth and subsequent years of employment with your company

You may choose to improve on this in your policy, but you cannot go lower than what is required by the Employment Standards Code.

Do I have to approve any dates my employee requests?

No, not necessarily. You and your employee must find a mutually agreeable time and if you cannot, a business you may assign vacation time to an employee with advance written notice.

May employees take vacation time a day at a time?

They may request it, and you may choose to approve it. A business cannot require an employee to take vacation in less than the full earned period without their agreement.

Vacation time is also allowable in half-day increments if agreed to by the employer and employee.

Vacation entitlements do not rollover and cannot be cumulative.

CFIB recommends that in any business with more than 2 or 3 employees, a vacation policy is established, communicated and includes a formal request form. When your employees know the process and you all follow it, vacations can continue to be the positive. Members of CFIB can find a sample vacation request form and absence tracking form available on this page.

For further information you can review the Employment Standards FAQ Annual Vacation and Vacation Pay.