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Does my employer have to pay me for vacation?

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Does my employer have to pay me for vacation?
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Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

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Does my employer have to pay me for vacation?
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Reviewed: 
January 1, 2018
Answer

Ontario's Employment Standards Act gives most people the right to 2 or 3 weeks of paid vacation in a year. They earn their vacation by working 12 months for the same employer.

If they've worked less than 5 years for the employer, they get 2 weeks of vacation in a year.

If they've worked 5 years or more for the employer, they get 3 weeks of vacation in a year.

Some workers may get more paid vacation, 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 pay from your first day of work to the day before the entitlement year begins.

Amount of vacation pay

The amount of vacation pay that the Employment Standards Act says you get depends on how long you've worked for your employer.

If you've worked less than 5 years, your vacation pay must be at least 4% of the wages, not including vacation pay, that you earn during your entitlement year.

If you've worked 5 years or more, your vacation pay must be at least 6% 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 earn vacation pay from your first day of work to the day before the entitlement year begins.

When you get your vacation pay

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

But your employer can pay you your vacation pay on your regular pay day while you're on vacation if:

  • they pay you by direct deposit into your bank account, or
  • you're taking less than one week of vacation.

Another option is to get your vacation pay at any time that you and your employer both agree on.

Or, you can have your employer add your vacation pay to your wages each pay period. If you do this, you won't be paid when you take your vacation.

If you leave your job

When you leave a job, your employer must give you any vacation pay that they owe you. This applies whether they fire you or you quit.

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