Do you take time off from work every year or are you too busy? During the pandemic, many of us faced the difficulty of finding a reason to take time off? What do I do with the days off was a common question?

Many of us are unable to take time off, thinking that it will impact work. We tend to think the workload is too big and no one else can do the work in our absence. We also fear we will miss out on being part of important decisions or projects.

During the pandemic, many of us faced job losses. The vacation payout was helpful when faced with a job loss. Some of us were saving up for the uncertain times.

Some could not afford to take a vacation as no work means no pay for them. When they were already struggling to maintain their hours at work, taking time off without pay, seemed to be a luxury.

For those who had the opportunity to work from home, the boundaries between work and personal life became blurred. There was no motivation to take time off.

Technology enhancements also have not helped people work less, allowing for more downtime and time off. Rather for many of us, technology has in fact increased the amount of time we spend working.

Contrary to our ideas, taking time off does not reduce productivity or our work. It rather enhances productivity. It is important to plan our time off in advance. Make sure we take the break and not think about work. Many times, the people around us could help if we ask. This is true both at work and at home. We have to trust that and let go.

Let us look at some of the important rules around vacation time in Canada.

In most Canadian jurisdictions, employment standards legislation makes vacation time mandatory. This is over and above the vacation, pay included in the employee’s pay. If an employee receives vacation pay on each paycheque, they will still be required to take vacation time off. Employment Standards legislation in most provinces mandates this. The time off would be unpaid. Many employers do not realize that vacation pay and vacation time are two separate requirements.

It is also a common practice to use vacation time during December when many businesses have partial shutdowns for the holiday season. It is also a time when people go to warmer regions to escape from the harsh winter climate. It would be important to know that vacation time does not expire in December. Though most people rush to take it at that time of the year, thinking they might lose it. This could be a misconception arising from other countries. In some countries, you either take vacation time within a timeframe or lose it. This is not true in Canada.

It is but, important to remember that the employer has a responsibility in ensuring usage of vacation time. The employer needs to ensure that the employee takes the least vacation time as mandated in the legislation. Employers will be exposed to liability if they do not track employee’s time off usage.

It is also interesting to note that employers can decide the schedule for vacation time. They might need to do this to ensure that the minimum vacation time is taken. They can decide the vacation time and inform the employee in advance, even if the employee does not want to agree with the schedule. Generally, a conversation with the employee and reminders to take the time off helps resolve such issues.

A conversation between the employer and employee helps in finding time for a vacation. It helps the individual as well as the organization when the employees are well rested and have a balanced schedule.

If you need help with your policies and processes, please contact us for a free consultation.