Canada is one of the United States' most important economic partners. Home to one of the best public education systems in the world, Canada is a booming talent hub across all industries, including tech, financial services, healthcare, and agriculture. Despite being a relatively small country by population, Canada's GDP is approaching $2 trillion. Companies looking to expand globally can hire top Canadian talent by partnering with an EOR service like Via.
While leave in Canada varies from province to province, the Canadian government has some federal requirements. Across the country, employees are entitled to paid vacation (PTO), bank holidays, sick leave, maternity & paternity leave, and other forms of personal leave.
Employees are entitled to at least 2 weeks of paid time off (PTO) after one year of employment. Vacation leave increases to 3 weeks after 5 years of employment, and 4 weeks after a solid 10 years of continuous service.
Percentage of earnings
4% for the first 4 years of employment, 6% for the first 9 years of employment, and 8% for 10 years and over
2 weeks after 1 year of employment, 3 weeks after 5 years of employment, and 4 weeks after 10 years of employment
British Columbia, Albert, Manitoba, Ontario, Northwest Territories, and Nunavet
4% of earnings for the first 5 years of employment, and 6% for every year after
2 weeks after 1 year of employment, and 3 weeks after 5 years of employment
3 weeks for the first 9 years of employment, 4 weeks for each additional year after 9 years
3 weeks after 1 year of employment, and 4 weeks after 10 years
4% for the first 3 years of employment, and 6% for every year after
1 day per month for the first year of employment up to 2 weeks, 2 weeks after 1 year, and 3 weeks after 3 years
4% of for the first 8 years of employment, and 6% at the start of the 8th year
1 day per month or 2 weeks after 1 year (up to 8 years), and 1.25 days per month or 3 weeks after 8 years
Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island
4% for the first 8 years of employment, and 6% for each additional year after
2 weeks after the first year, and 3 weeks after 8 years
Newfoundland and Labrador
4% for the first 15 years of employment, and 6% for any additional year after
2 weeks for the first 15 years, and 3 weeks for every year after
4% of salary
2 weeks after 1 year of employment
Vacation pay is broken down as:
4% of the employee’s annual salary for 2 weeks of vacation after 1 year of continuous service
6% of the employee’s annual salary for 3 weeks of vacation after 5 years of continuous service
8% of the employee’s annual salary for 4 weeks of vacation after 10 years of continuous service
If a worker in Toronto, Canada has been with a company for 2 years and has a salary of $60,000 CAD, he or she would be entitled to $2,400 CAD of vacation pay, or 4% of $60,000 CAD. This means the employer would need to pay $240 CAD for each vacation day.
Employers can make vacation payments 14 days before the vacation begins, or they can distribute the vacation pay evenly in the worker’s bi-weekly or monthly paychecks. If a worker is paid monthly, for instance, then they would receive an additional $200 each paycheck.
There are 2 approaches for dispersing vacation pay in Canada:
Paying after the employee's request for PTO has been approved
Distributing an equal proportion of earned vacation pay in an employee’s regular paycheck
Lump sum payments before vacation
Many employers choose to pay employees their vacation pay in a lump sum, usually after a worker's request for PTO has been approved by HR. This payment should be made at least 14-days prior to when the vacation period starts.
If an employee plans to take 2 weeks of vacation and their base salary is $60,000, their employer would pay them $2,400 on top of their regular salary.
Dispersing vacation pay each pay period
With this option, the employer opts to automatically add the employee’s vacation pay to their regular paychecks. This is the best option for part-time, seasonal, and hourly workers, since HR doesn't need to keep track of each worker's accrued time off throughout the year.
This option eliminates large lump sum payments, but can lead to confusion if workers are not used to receiving vacation pay in their bi-weekly or monthly paychecks.
"Use it or lose it," a common phrase to describe when vacation days do not carry over to the next calendar year, is illegal in Canada (unlike in the United States). The stipulations surrounding accrued vacation time from the previous year should be included in the employment agreement.
The maximum amount of vacation leave an employee is allowed to carry over is 35 days or 262.5 hours.
If an employee does not use all of their vacation time and is laid off or let go, they are entitled to that leftover vacation in their severance packages. This needs to be paid out within 30 days of the termination date.
While vacation pay doesn’t expire, employers and workers should know the following:
Remember that workers can request a cash out of all their excess vacation leave at any time
Remember that 100% of unused vacation leave in the current year will only be cashed out if the worker is carrying over more than the allowable vacation leave
Vacation pay cash-out payments are subject to income tax the year that they are cashed out, not the year that they are earned
Canada has 10 national holidays, and each province has their own additional holidays that employees are entitled to have off.
Employees that are required to work during a public holiday may take an additional rest day instead of that holiday.
Public holidays in Canada for 2023:
New Years (1/1/2023)
Good Friday (4/7/2023)
Victoria Day (5/22/2023)
Canada Day (7/1/2023)
Labour Day (9/4/2023)
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (9/30/2023)
Remembrance Day (11/11/2023)
Christmas Day (12/25/2023)
Boxing Day (12/26/2023)
Most employers also give Christmas Eve and New Years Eve off.
In Canada, there is no minimum required sick pay for illness or injury, except mandatory leave for work-related injuries.
However, most employers choose to supply their employees with personal leave or unpaid leave. Employers should include the details of this leave in the terms of the employment contract.
Some provinces have a set amount of unpaid leave employees are entitled to:
Alberta: 5 days
British Columbia and Nova Scotia: 3 days
Manitoba: 3 days and 17 weeks for serious injury or illness
Federal jurisdiction: 5 days and 26 weeks in a 12-month period for serious injury or illness
New Brunswick and Northwest Territories: 5 days
Newfoundland and Labrador: 7 days per year
Prince Edward Island: 3 days after 3 months of employment, and 4 days after 5 years of employment
Ontario: 2 paid days
Saskatchewan: 12 days and 12 weeks for serious injury or illness
Nunavut: 1.25 days for each month the employee works for at least 10 days
Yukon: 1 day per month for a maximum of 12 days
All other provinces/territories leave it up to the company to create the terms and condition of their sick leave policy.
Employees in Canada are able to take personal leave to deal with personal illness, family responsibilities, emergencies, and other purposes. Personal leave is different from paid time off (PTO).
After three months of continuous employment, employees are entitled to three paid days off. Employers are not required to pay for the fourth day and beyond.
Employees in Canada must receive at least 17 weeks of protected medical leave. Employers cannot terminate ill employees during this time. If an employee is unable to perform their duties for more than 3 days, employers may request documentation from a health care provider to verify their medical condition.
Critical illness leave is a form of protected leave that allows employees an absence for immediate family members who are sick or critically ill. Canadian law allows employees to take 17 weeks to care for sick adults (spouse or parent), and 37 weeks for children.
Biological and surrogate mothers are entitled to take at least 15 weeks of maternity leave in most of Canada, and 18 weeks in Quebec.
Paid maternity leave is funded through the Canadian government, so employers don’t have to pick up that cost. Maternity leave is paid at 55% for the first 15 weeks.
Canadian parents receive a total of 76 weeks of leave between the mother and the father through parental leave. However, mothers can only take 35 weeks. Fathers are entitled to at least 5 weeks of paid paternity leave.
Biological, adoptive, and legally recognized parents are entitled to (up to) 35 weeks individually in the case of adoption. Together, legally recognized parents can take 40 hours of paid leave after becoming parents. They can take this leave at the same time or separately.
Like maternity leave, parental leave payments come from Canadian social programs, not employers, and are paid at 55% for the first 50 weeks. After 50 weeks, parental leave is paid at 33% of the employee's total salary.
Parents are entitled to 52 weeks of unpaid leave following a crime-related disappearance of a child and 104 weeks of unpaid leave in the case of a death of a child.
Five-day leave is only available in the province of Quebec. Employers must provide biological and adoptive parents five days (two paid) for the birth or termination of a child that occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Employees are guaranteed unpaid leave for legal proceedings, as long as they are not plaintiffs or defendants in a lawsuit. Leave for legal proceedings protects employees serving on juries and witnesses who have received subpoenas.
Employees who identify as aboriginal (Indian, Intuit, or Metis) qualify for 5 days of unpaid leave per calendar year after 3 months of continuous employment. During this unpaid leave, aboriginal employees can participate in traditional customs like fishing and hunting, as well as observe traditional events.
Employees are entitled to a leave an absence to assist the country in the following situations:
Operation in place by the Minister of National Defense in Canada
A general activity set out in the employee’s reserve force regulations
Military skill training
Training under the National Defence Act
Service under the National Defence Act
Mental or physical health treatment
Employees are entitled to compassionate care leave when caring for a critically ill or sick family member.
Federal jurisdiction, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon: 28 weeks within any 52-week period
Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, Northwest Territories: 27 weeks within any 52-week period (in Quebec, the first two days are paid)
All other provinces/territories: 8 weeks within any 52-week period
Employees are entitled to a minimum of 10 weeks (and up to 26 weeks of leave) in the case of domestic violence, victims of family violence, or sexual assault.
Some provinces give pay for part of the leave, including:
Quebec: The first 2 days are paid by the employer
Federal jurisdiction and Saskatchewan: The first 5 days are paid by the employer
British Columbia: The first 5 days are paid by the employer
Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island: The first 3 days are paid by the employer
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