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Do I have to use up all my vacation days at work?

Though it doesn’t happen very often, sometimes an employee enjoys working so much; he or she doesn’t want to take a vacation.

The law mandates that employers give employees a certain amount of vacation time, so does that mean employers are obligated to have employees take vacation?

If the employee refuses, can the employer force the employee to take all their vacation days?

The right to vacation

Employees have both federal and provincial rights to take vacation time. Employment standards legislation in every province mandates that employees get a certain amount of time off every year. Usually, the minimum employees are entitled to are two weeks and if they are long-time employees the legislation usually increases the number of weeks of vacation entitlement.

Can my employer force me to take my vacation if I don’t want to?

The employer has the right to demand that the employee book his or her vacation time and unless the employee chooses when to take vacation, it is also usually permitted for the employer to tell the employee when he or she will take the vacation time off.

For example, Manitoba legislation says that the employer has the right to tell the employee when to take vacation. However, the employee has to be given at least 15 days’ notice and the employer cannot schedule a vacation for less than one week.

In New Brunswick, too, the employer has the right to determine when an employee takes vacation but there you have to be given two weeks notice. In addition, if the employer cancels the vacation, the employee has the right to be reimbursed for any expenses he or she lost as a result of the cancellation.

In many provinces it’s also mandated that an employee take their vacation within a 10-month period following the year in which vacation was earned.

Can I carry over my vacation time?

Often carry over is not discussed in employment standards legislation and it’s usually the workplace that can answer the question. For example, there is no regulation for carry over vacation time in Saskatchewan.

You need to consult with your workplace if you want to carry over vacation time into a new year. Some workplaces allow for this and others don’t, unless the province has legislation that regulates carry over vacation.

If I only have a few days left in my vacation do I still have to take it?

Typically you have to take at least one week of unbroken vacation, so this is a situation that shouldn’t occur with regularity. However, the employer can still ask you to use up your vacation days and if you refuse, you may lose them or be subject to disciplinary action.

What if I don’t take the vacation time?

If you have been scheduled for time off work for vacation and you still show up in the office, that can be seen as insubordination and you could face disciplinary action.

If you are in a situation where you are facing disciplinary action over a vacation time dispute you should consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Annual vacations

Vacations, Vacation Pay and Annual Holidays by province