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How much vacation time do I get?

Ontario's Employment Standards Act gives most people the right to 2 weeks of vacation in a year. They earn this by working 12 months for the same employer.

Some workers may get more vacation time, based on what their employer agrees to give them or what's in their collective agreement.

Earning your vacation

The period of 12 months in which you earn your vacation is called your "entitlement year". Your employer decides when this year begins. It could begin:

  • when you start working for your employer
  • on a different date, for example, January 1, if your employer uses the calendar year as the entitlement year

If the entitlement year starts on a date that's different than the date you started working, you still earn vacation from your first day of work to the day before the entitlement year begins.

Taking your vacation

Your employer has the right to decide:

  • when you can take your vacation
  • whether you can take all of your vacation at the same time

The law says that if you get 2 weeks of vacation, your employer can say whether you can take 2 weeks in a row, or one week at a time.

The law also says that if your employer asks you to take your 2 weeks of vacation in periods that are less than one week at a time, you don't have to do this. But if this is something you want to do, ask your employer in writing and get your employer to agree in writing.

Your employer must let you take your vacation within 10 months of when you earn it.

Vacation pay

Vacation pay must be at least 4% of the wages, not including vacation pay, that you earn during your entitlement year.

If your entitlement year starts on a different date than the date you started working, you also get vacation pay from your first day of work to the day before the entitlement year begins.

The general rule is that your employer has to pay you your vacation pay before your vacation starts.

If you already got your vacation pay, you get the time off without pay.

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Find out if Ontario's laws about vacation apply to you

Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow, including rules about vacation.

But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And in some cases, only parts of the ESA apply.

Use the Ministry of Labour's online tool called Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules to find out if your job is covered and which parts of the ESA apply.

You can also call the Ministry's Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551, 416-326-7160, or 1-866-567-8893 (TTY).

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Keep track of the vacation time you earn

It's a good idea to keep your own records in case your employer does not keep accurate records.

And if you don't agree with what your employer says about the amount of vacation you've earned, it's helpful if you have your own records.

The law says that your employer must keep records of:

  • your vacation time, including what you've earned, taken, and are owed
  • the wages you've earned
  • your vacation pay, including what you've earned, taken, and are owed

Your employer must give you this information if you ask for it.

When you're making your own records, it’s best to make them at the time. One way to show that you kept records at the time is to send email messages to yourself that:

  • list how many hours you worked
  • figure out how much you earned
  • note how much you were paid

It's a good idea to do this at least once for each pay period.

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Ask for your vacation time

Your employer must let you take your vacation within 10 months of when you earn it. If your employer is refusing to let you take vacation, get legal advice

Your employer has the right to decide:

  • when you can take your vacation
  • whether you can take all of your vacation at the same time

The law says that if you get 2 weeks of vacation, your employer can say whether you can take 2 weeks in a row, or one week at a time.

The law also says that if your employer asks you to take your 2 weeks of vacation in periods that are less than one week at a time, you don't have to do this. But if this is something you want to do, ask your employer in writing and get your employer to agree in writing.

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015

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