Use it or lose it

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What Ontario Law Says About Vacation

Starting off with the basics, every province in Canada entitles an employee to vacation time after working for 12 consecutive months of employment. An employer must grant their employee two weeks of time off, which applies in every province apart from Saskatchewan (which offers 3 weeks) and Quebec (which offers one day per month). Employers cannot adopt a “use it or lose it” policy for the minimum two weeks of vacation. Employees must be permitted to take two paid weeks off within 10 months of the end of the vacation year. The use-it-or-lose-it policy is only acceptable for additional weeks on top of the statutory minimum.

Taking Vacation Enhances Well-being

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing measured GDP growth alongside quality of life over the years between 1994 and 2010. While gross domestic product grew nearly 29% during that period, health, living standards and equity rose less than 6%. Despite significant economic recovery since 2008, free time has virtually flat-lined. Furthermore, 19.3% of Canadians who work full-time took no vacation days during the previous year. Not one day.

A Statistics Canada General Social Survey (CIW) study found that people who had 10 days or more of paid vacation time in the past year reported better mental health, higher levels of life satisfaction and better overall health.  83.9% of employees working in the Utilities sector take their paid vacation as opposed to 47.4% of employees in the Management and Administrative sector.

Research has also found that employees with a partner or spouse, parents with children under 19 years of age and unionised employees are more likely to take paid vacation days. Conversely, singles, people with no children at home, lower level of education and household income are less likely to use paid vacation days.

Issue is compounded by the Generational Gap

One in four millennials reported that they worked every day of their vacations, and felt less productive when they returned. They feel guilty when taking time off work. Hence, they are more likely to check in outside of work than older generations.

Baby Boomers were trained to work. Taking vacation from work is considered slacking. They prefer to get their vacation paid and work them through.

Gen X is sort of caught in the middle. While they value work, they need to take time off work in order to be with their family. They’ve seen their parents working 70 hours a week only to be let go after 30 years of employment. Disillusioned, they feel no guilt about taking their vacation.

Why are Vacations a Huge Stigma?

It’s often the workplace culture that measures performance by hours put in the office and shows preference for employees who don’t take vacation. Some employers allow employees to cash-in their vacation as opposed to take them. Workforces are often understaffed, and so employers feel more secure having their people at work. Then, there are concerns about job security, and a preference to stay at work instead of taking vacation.

The point of a vacation, beyond the mere enjoyment, is to come away feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on new challenges at work. Employees that take vacations have better mental health and greater satisfaction with work-life balance. Don’t you prefer healthy and productive employees as opposed to stressed and exhausted employees? Working without letup is a bad habit that can jeopardize business, health and the life you’re supposedly working toward.

Think about it…


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