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Determining vacation dates

QUESTION: Are there rules for deciding when an employee will take vacation if an employer and an employee do not agree on the timing?

ANSWER: The answer depends on the jurisdiction of employment since vacations are covered under provincial/territorial labour standards laws and the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employees.    

Legislation in most jurisdictions specifies that employers are allowed to determine when employees take vacation, as long as the employer ensures that the vacation occurs within specified number of months after the employee becomes entitled to it.    

Here is a look at requirements for determining vacation dates when employers and employees cannot agree: 

Canada Labour Code: The employer may decide when an employee will take vacation, as long as the worker takes the vacation within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least two weeks’ notice of when the vacation will begin. 

Alberta: The employer may determine when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 12 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least two weeks’ written notice of when the vacation will begin. 

British Columbia: The employer may determine when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 12 months of becoming entitled to it. The Employment Standards Act does not specify how much notice an employer must give an employee of when they are able to use vacation dates.

Manitoba: The employer may determine when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least 15 days’ notice of the date the vacation is to begin. 

New Brunswick: The employer may decide when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within four months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least one week’s notice of when the vacation will begin. 

Newfoundland and Labrador: The employer may decide when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. Unless an employer and an employee agree otherwise in writing, the employer must give to the employee at least two weeks’ written notice of when the employee will take the vacation. 

Northwest Territories: The Employment Standards Act does not specify whether an employer may decide when an employee takes vacation. It does require that employees take their vacation within six months of becoming entitled to it.

Nova Scotia: The employer may decide when an employee takes vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least one week’s notice of when the vacation is to begin. 

Nunavut: The Labour Standards Act does not specify whether an employer may decide when an employee takes vacation. It does require that employees take their vacation within 10 months of becoming entitled to it.

Ontario: The employer may determine when an employee takes vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. The Employment Standards Act, 2000 does not specify how much advance notice an employer must give an employee of a vacation. 

Prince Edward Island: The employer may determine when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within four months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least one week’s notice of when it will begin. 

Quebec: The employer may decide when an employee takes vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 12 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least four weeks’ notice of when it will begin.

Saskatchewan: The employer may decide when an employee will take vacation, as long as the employee takes it within 12 months of becoming entitled to it. The employer must give the employee at least four weeks’ written notice before the vacation begins. 

Yukon: The Employment Standards Act does not specify whether an employer may decide when an employee takes vacation. It does require that employees take their vacation within 10 months of becoming entitled to it. 

Vacations for part-time employees

QUESTION: Do employers have to provide part-time employees with paid vacation time or can they just pay them vacation pay?

ANSWER: Part-time employees are entitled to vacation time and pay unless their job is exempted from vacation provisions in the labour standards law that applies in the jurisdiction in which the employee works. 

Some jurisdictions allow employees to waive their vacation time (but not their vacation pay) under certain circumstances.

These jurisdictions include the Canada Labour Code, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, employees who work less than 90 per cent of normal working hours in the 12-month period when they earn vacation may opt not to take a vacation leave. The employee must request this option in writing; the employer cannot impose it.

Employers are still required to pay the employee the required amount of vacation pay. 

Including holiday pay in vacation earnings

QUESTION: When calculating how much vacation pay to pay employees, do we include statutory holiday pay in the calculation? 

ANSWER: Employers in most jurisdictions in Canada are required to include statutory holiday pay paid to employees during the year when calculating how much vacation pay an employee is entitled to receive.    

The only two jurisdictions that do not require employers to include statutory holiday pay when determining vacation pay are Alberta and New Brunswick. 

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