Summer is well underway. And, as we Ontarians relish the last of these wonderful sweet sticky months we thought now might be as good a time as any to talk about vacations. While it might be too late to secure time at that cutecottage before labour day, we hope this short guide will answer some common questions about vacation time and vacation pay.
I started a new job, when can I take my first vacation?
Unfortunately, not any time soon. Employees are only entitled to vacation time after a full year of employment with the same employer. Yes, this means you can wait over a year before taking two weeks off to rest and relax.
The good news is that after five years of continuous employment (this includes time spent on job-protected leaves of absence such as parental leave or medical leave), employees are entitled to three weeks of vacation time.
How is vacation pay calculated?
For employees with less than five years of continuous employment with the same employer, vacation pay is at least 4% of your gross wages earned in your 12 month vacation entitlement year. For employees with five or more years continuous employment, vacation pay must be at least 6% of your gross wages. Vacation pay is usually paid to an employee as a lump sum before they take their earned vacation time.
Gross wages include regular earning and commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, public holiday pay and termination pay. It does not include tips and gratuities.
If you do not finish a vacation entitlement year you are not entitled to vacation time, but you are entitled to the vacation pay you have accrued for the time you worked.
What is a vacation entitlement year?
According to the government of Ontario, a vacation entitlement year is “the 12-month period over which employees earn vacation.” This includes time that an employee is away from work due to injury or illness, a layoff, or an approved leave of absence.
Normally, an employee’s vacation entitlement year begins on their first day of employment. This means that an employee who begins work on May 1st, 2019 will be entitled to two weeks of vacation time as of May 1st 2020.
It is also common for employers to give employees an alternative vacation entitlement year that coincides with the calendar year. In such cases, the employee is entitled to a pro-rated amount of vacation time for the stub period between the start of their employment and the beginning of the vacation entitlement year.
When can I take vacation?
Vacation time must be taken within 10 months of completing a vacation entitlement year. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees take their vacation time before the end of this 10-month period. While employees can usually ask for specific time off, your employer ultimately has the right to schedule when you take your vacation time.
Furthermore, vacation must be taken in blocks of one of more weeks, rather than individual days unless specifically requested by the employee.