Vacations and all that fun stuff

It’s March Break week in Ontario – the highways are quieter and it’s tougher to get work done because so many people are away.

The Courts are full of people with non-school aged kids, litigating disputes blissfully unaware that many people have overpaid to travel at the busiest time of the year.

So, where does that leave your business? How are you handling it? What do you do when many people want the same week up?

If you’re unable to answer those questions, it’s time to think about it and create policies.

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act has mandatory minimums for vacation time and pay that you cannot contract out of. After an employee has worked a full year, they are entitled to 2 weeks of vacation time. From the moment they start working, they accrue an entitlement to 4% vacation pay. That amount can be paid when they take their 2 weeks or you can pay as you go. If you pay the 4% each pay cheque, when they take their 2 weeks off, you don’t have to pay the employee because you already pre-paid that vacation pay.

Most employers choose to pay salaried workers the same amount all year, yet provide them with at least 2 weeks of vacation as well. This is certainly simpler and generally, should not be an issue with “the math of vacation pay” but it’s always important to be sure.

In terms of who gets to take time off and when, have a written policy regarding how to apply for vacation dates. Remember, you cannot discriminate on the basis of family, so you cannot say employees with children get first choice. Be fair. Have a policy and rely on it.

Inga B. Andriessen JD