Know Your Rights: Using Your Time-Off and Vacation Entitlement

Why Time Off Is Important For Maintaining A Productive Staff
August 15, 2018
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Want to know the secret to a long life? Less stress and more rest. Canadians are among the world’s most workaholic employees with 93% of workers believing that vacations are essential to happiness but less than half actually taking vacations. And this isn’t because we just really love our jobs. Vacation time and paid time-off are a chance to get away from all the stresses of work, so why aren’t we taking it?

What Are Your Rights?

The worker’s right to annual vacation with pay was first legislated in Ontario in 1944 under the “Hours of Work and Vacations with Pay Act.” The Act required employers to provide their employees with one paid week of vacation per year. Over time, this became two weeks of paid vacation time after 12 months of work. Today, most provinces in Canada are required to give workers two paid weeks off after 12 months of consecutive service. With the exception of Saskatchewan, which offers 3 weeks and Quebec, which offers one day per month. Employers are allowed to offer more time as they please. In Alberta, employers offer two weeks after one year of work. This should increase to three weeks after five years of working for the same employer. Under the Albertan Legislation, you should take your vacation within the 12 months following the year it was earned. However, this act does not include contract work, vacation and time-off is at the discretion of the worker and the employer.

Why So Much Time-Off Goes Unused?

In Canada, 34 million time-off days go untaken per year. That’s about $6-billion in income gone to waste. This is often because many workers are afraid to take time off. Even though it is well-deserved and within their rights as a worker. From fear of looking lazy and uncommitted to the worry of piled up work while they are away, so many Canadian workers work until they are burned out or become ill when a simple day off could have prevented it.

Benefits of Vacation Time

Time-off is the best cure (and prevention) for Burnout. Burnout is when a worker feels mentally and physically drained or overwhelmed. Often Burnout is caused by being over-worked or work-related stress. Often Burnout can be defeated by making your job more enjoyable and in other cases, all you need is some time away. Use your vacation time or paid time-off to rest, recharge, do nothing or catch up on some outside-of-work activities to make your work-life feel more balanced and blended. Taking this time off can ease stress and often prevent any stress-related injuries and illnesses. Along with that, you’ll come back to work feeling more refreshed, clear-headed, and all-in-all more productive.

What can you do as a worker?

Know your rights and your company’s vacation time policies. Every company is different, be sure you are aware of your company’s time-off and vacation policies. For example, many companies do not allow carry-over. Building up weeks and weeks of holidays may not work to your advantage if your policy does not allow carryover into the next year. Don’t let your vacation time go to waste.

Take full advantage and given notice of vacation intentions. Plan ahead, give your employer advance notice of your vacation plans to ensure you will receive the time off and to receive piece of mind that someone will cover your duties.

Take the vacation time you deserve to live better and work better.

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