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Leave

Holiday entitlement

Vacation entitlement varies according to each province/territory, but the federal legislation mandates at least two weeks of paid time off for employees after one year of employment, three weeks after five years of employment, and four weeks after ten years of continuous employment. In addition to that, employers sometimes decide to top the statutory time off and as they do, they follow a similar progressive philosophy — commonly three to four weeks, often up to six weeks. However, most employers mandate that employees cannot take more than two weeks off at a time.

Paid time off is accrued based on a percentage of earnings and varies by province/territory, as follows:

Federal:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first four years of employment; 6% for five – nine years of employment; 8% after ten years
  • Vacation entitlement: two weeks after one year of employment; three weeks after five years; four weeks after ten years

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first five years of employment; 6% afterwards
  • Vacation entitlement: two weeks after one year of employment; three weeks after five years

Saskatchewan:

  • Vacation pay: 3/52 of earnings for the first nine years of employment; 4/52 afterwards
  • Vacation entitlement: three weeks after one year of employment; four weeks after ten years

Quebec:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first three years of employment; 6% afterwards
  • Vacation entitlement: one day per month for the first year of employment up to two weeks if less than one year; two weeks after one year; three weeks after three years
  • An employee who is already entitled to two weeks of vacation may request an additional week’s leave without pay. The employer must grant this leave. The worker cannot demand to take this third week after the other two weeks. This additional leave cannot be divided into several periods unless the employer allows it.

New Brunswick:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first eight years of employment; 6% at the start of the employee’s eighth year
  • Vacation entitlement: one day per month or two weeks of vacation yearly for the first eight years of employment; 1.25 days per month, or three weeks of vacation yearly afterwards

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first eight years of employment; 6% afterwards
  • Vacation entitlement: two weeks after one year of employment; three weeks after eight years

Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings for the first 15 years of employment; 6% afterwards
  • Vacation entitlement: two weeks if less than 15 years of employment; three weeks after 15 years

Yukon:

  • Vacation pay: 4% of earnings
  • Vacation entitlement: two weeks after one year of employment

Bank holiday

Canada has nine national holidays yearly, and some provinces/territories have additional holidays. Employees are entitled to their regular pay on a public holiday. If they’re required to work during the holiday, they’re entitled to an additional day off in lieu or being paid at a premium rate for the day.

Many employers give employees the 24th and 31st of December as a paid holiday.

Canada 2021 Holiday Calendar

Date Week Day Holiday
1/1/2021 Friday New Year’s Day
2/15/2021 Monday Family Day* (Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia only)
4/2/2021 Friday Good Friday (except Quebec, but some employers choose to give it as a holiday)
4/5/2021 Monday Easter Monday (Nunavut only)**
5/24/2021 Monday Victoria Day*
6/21/2021 Monday National Aboriginal Day (Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Newfoundland and Labrador only)*
6/24/2021 Thursday Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (Quebec only)
7/1/2021 Thursday Canada Day
7/9/2021 Friday Nunavut Day (Nunavut only)
8/2/2021 Monday Civic Holiday* (except Ontario, Quebec, and Yukon)***
8/16/2021 Monday Discovery Day (Yukon only)
9/6/2021 Monday Labour Day
10/11/2021 Monday Thanksgiving Day (except Nova Scotia)
11/11/2021 Thu Remembrance Day (except Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia)
12/25/2021 Saturday Christmas Day
12/26/2021 Sunday Boxing Day (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Ontario only)
* Called differently depending on the region
** Widely observed in Alberta and Quebec
*** Widely observed in Ontario

Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March (observed on the second Monday in March), St. George’s Day on the 26th of April, and Orangeman’s Day on the 12th of July are government holidays in Newfoundland and Labrador.

New Year’s Eve on the 31st of December is a government holiday in Quebec.

 
 

Leave

Sick leave

There is no statutory sick pay in Canada, except for illness and injuries that are work related. Some employees may be entitled to an allowance from the Employment Insurance due to their social security’s contributions. Many employers choose to provide employees with sick leave and pay for a certain number of days of illness, which may be eligible for government Employment Insurance premium reductions.

Every province/territory organises the number of days employees are entitled to unpaid leave, as follows:

Alberta:

  • Employees are entitled to up to five days of unpaid leave

British Columbia, Nova Scotia (can be used to care for a family member or doctor’s appointment in Nova Scotia as well):

  • Employees are entitled to three days of unpaid job-protected sick leave.

Manitoba:

  • Employees are entitled to a 17 weeks’ leave for a serious illness or injury; otherwise, three sick days.

Federal jurisdiction:

  • Employees are entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid sick leave in a 12-month period; otherwise, five days, the first three of which are paid.

New Brunswick, Northwest Territories:

  • Employees are entitled to five days of unpaid leave per year.

Newfoundland and Labrador (30 days of employment):

  • Employees are entitled to seven days of unpaid leave per year.

Prince Edward Island:

  • Employees are entitled to three days of unpaid leave per year after three months of service. After five years of continuous employment with the same company, the employee is entitled to four days of leave. The employer pays the first day.

Ontario:

  • Employees are entitled to three days of unpaid leave per year.

Quebec:

  • Employees are entitled to two days paid by the employer; an employee cannot be absent for more than 26 weeks in a 12-month period.

Saskatchewan:

  • Employees are entitled to 12 days per year, unpaid; in case of a serious illness or injury, 12 weeks, unpaid.

Nunavut:

  • Employees are entitled to 1.25 days for each month the employee receives ten or more days’ pay.

Yukon:

  • Employees are entitled to one day per month of employment, for a maximum of 12 days, unpaid.

The remaining provinces don’t impose a sick leave entitlement on employers, leaving it to the company’s discretion.

Employees who have been working for their employers for at least three months are protected against dismissal, demotion, and layoffs during their absence caused by illness. Depending on the province, this can be up to 17 weeks. Employees on sick leave keep on accruing pension, health, seniority, and disability benefits as long as they keep on making their contributions, which obliges employers to also keep on making their share of contributions.

Employers can request medical proof of illness if the leave lasts for more than three days. If an employer requests a written medical certificate within 15 days of the employee’s return to work, employees must provide them with one. Other leaves, such as parental, compassionate, and disappearance, can be interrupted to take a sick leave and resumed immediately after the sick leave ends.

Maternity leave

Pregnant employees are entitled to 15 weeks minimum and up to 17 weeks (12 weeks in case of a miscarriage or stillbirth) of maternity leave paid by the government through the Employment Insurance. The cash benefit is 55% of the employee’s average salary, capped at CAD$595 per week; however, employers can choose to top up the employee’s allowance. In Quebec, the government payment is capped at CAD$900.

To be eligible for a paid leave, an employee must have worked and accumulated 600 insured hours in 52 weeks. The leave length varies by province/territory, as follows:

Federal jurisdiction, Alberta, Nova Scotia: 16 weeks

Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba (after seven months of employment), New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador (20 weeks of employment), Prince Edward Island (20 weeks of employment), Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon (12 months of employment): 17 weeks

Quebec: 18 weeks

Saskatchewan: 19 weeks, including the primary caregiver of an adopted child. Can be extended by 6 weeks (for a total of 25 weeks) if there is a medical reason for not returning to work.

Paternity leave

There is no statutory paternity leave in Canada, except in Quebec, where employees are entitled to five uninterrupted weeks of leave. The five weeks of paternity leave are part of the leave entitlement bank from their parental leave. The leave is paid by the Social Security authorities, as described in the Parental Leave section.

Five day leave

Quebec only: biological and adoptive parents may be absent from work for five days (the first two are paid) for the birth or adoption of a child or a termination of pregnancy, which occurs as of the 20th week of pregnancy.

Employees are entitled to this leave regardless of the length of their employment. However, if the mother is already on maternity leave or the father is on paternity leave, they are not entitled to this leave.

Parental leave

All parents are entitled to a parental leave after birth or adoption, which can be taken at the same time by both parents. Length of a leave varies by province/territory and is divided as desired by the parents. The leave is paid by Social Security, also called Service Canada, through the Employment Insurance. The benefit equals to 55% of the employee’s average salary, capped at CAD$595 weekly (CAD$900 in Quebec), but some employers choose to top the leave pay up to 100%.

Federal: 71 weeks combined if both parents take it

Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island: 62 weeks

Manitoba (must have been employed for at least 7 months), Yukon (12 months of employment): 63 weeks

Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador (20 weeks of employment), Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories (in NT, total of 69 weeks if shared between parents): 61 weeks

Quebec: 78 weeks for biological parents, inclusive of paternity and maternity leave. In case of adoption, each parent is entitled to 65 weeks.

Saskatchewan: The parent that was on maternity or adoption leave is eligible for 59 weeks of parental leave. Parents who didn’t take either maternity or adoption leave are eligible for up to 71 weeks.

Nunavut: 37 weeks. Maternity and parental leave combined cannot exceed 52 weeks.

Parental leave must be used within the first year of the child’s birth. To be eligible for the paid leave, the employee must have been employed for at least three months and made contributions to Social Security.

Employees on leave are protected from being dismissed and have the right to return to their previous job at the end of the leave. Employment benefits keep on building up during their absence, including seniority.

Personal & family responsibility leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of three days per year to a personal leave after having been employed for three months.

The following circumstances can be used for taking a personal leave:

  • treating an injury or illness
  • taking care of health obligations for any family member
  • taking care of family responsibilities
  • education obligations for any family member under the age of 18
  • managing any urgent situation that concerns the employee or a family member
  • attending their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act

Duration may vary by province/territory, as follows:

  • Federal jurisdiction: five days — the first three paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Quebec: ten days — the first two paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Alberta, British Columbia: five days, unpaid
  • Manitoba (after being employed for 30 days), New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island: three days, unpaid
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (30 days of employment): seven days, unpaid
  • Nova Scotia: combined with sick leave, three days, unpaid
  • Ontario: ten days, unpaid personal emergency leave
  • Saskatchewan: no days available
  • Northwest Territories: no days available
  • Nunavut, Yukon: the leave not covered by the Labour Standards Act

Bereavement leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of three days of a bereavement leave, following the death of an immediate family member. Employees become eligible for a bereavement leave after three months of employment. Duration may vary by province/territory as follows:

  • Federal jurisdiction: five days — the first three days of leave paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Quebec: five days – the first two paid by the employer and the remainder unpaid; in the case of an extended family, one unpaid day off; 104 weeks if their underage child dies or if their partner, parents, or kids commit suicide
  • Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba (after 30 days of employment): three days, unpaid
  • New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan: five days, unpaid
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (30 days of employment), Prince Edward Island: three days — first day paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Ontario: two days, unpaid
  • Northwest Territories: three days if the funeral or memorial service takes place in the community the employee resides; seven days if outside the community
  • Nunavut: the leave not covered by the Labour Standards Act
  • Yukon: one week, unpaid

Compassionate care leave

Employees are entitled to an unpaid compassionate leave to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition or is at risk of death, which varies by province/territory as follows:

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: eight weeks within any 52-week period

The leave is paid by the Employment Insurance at a rate of 55% of an employee’s average salary and is capped at CAD$595 weekly.

Domestic violence & sexual assault leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of ten days, up to 26 weeks of leave, paid or unpaid, depending on the province/territory, as follows:

  • Quebec: 26 weeks — the first two days paid by the employer if the employee hasn’t used their paid days entitlement for illness, accident, organ donation or to care for a loved one; the remainder unpaid
  • Federal jurisdiction, Saskatchewan: ten days — the first five days paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Alberta: ten days, unpaid
  • British Columbia: ten days — the first five days paid by the employer and the remainder unpaid; if necessary, up to 15 more weeks of unpaid leave available
  • Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island: ten days — the first three days paid by the employer; the remainder unpaid
  • Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Northwest Territories: There are two parts of the interpersonal violence leave. The first part allows employees to take either ten consecutive days or on an intermittent basis in a 52-week period, as needed. The second part allows employees to take up to 17 weeks (16 in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 15 in Ontario and Northwest Territories) in a 52-week period in one continuous stretch. Only the first five days are paid by the employer (three days in Nova Scotia).
  • Nunavut: the leave not covered by the Labour Standards Act
  • Yukon: the leave has been proposed, not part of the Labour Standards Act yet

Critical illness leave

Employees are entitled to time off in case of a family member’s critical illness. Duration may vary by province/territory as follows:

  • Federal jurisdiction, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon: 17 weeks for sick adults unpaid; 37 weeks for children, unpaid
  • Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec: 16 weeks for sick adults, unpaid; 36 weeks for children, unpaid.
  • New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: 16 weeks for sick adults; 37 weeks for children
  • Prince Edward Island: 37 weeks for children (under 18); not applicable to sick adults
  • Nunavut: the leave not covered by the Labour Standards Act.

Employees may be eligible for critically ill or injured children/adult benefits under the federal EI program.

Child death leave & crime related child disappearance leave

Employees are entitled to a 52-week unpaid leave, following a crime-related disappearance of a child, and 104 weeks in case of a child’s death. In New Brunswick, each leave is 37 weeks long. In Quebec and Saskatchewan, the leave for disappearance of a child is 104 weeks. The Labour Standards Act doesn’t cover this leave in Nunavut.

Employees may be entitled to financial assistance from the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant.

Aboriginal employee leave

Federally regulated employees with aboriginal heritage are entitled to five days of unpaid leave yearly to observe aboriginal customs and events. These can include cultural activities, including hunting, harvesting and fishing, holidays, and traditional ceremonies.

To be eligible, the employee must have been working for the company for at least three months.

Other leaves

Certain provinces have specific leaves for certain situations, as follows:

  • Citizenship leave: one day off to attend a citizenship ceremony — applicable in Alberta (half-day off, unpaid), Manitoba (four hours off), Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan
  • Wedding leave: one paid day off (if the wedding takes place on a working day) by the employer on the employee’s wedding day; employees also entitled to an unpaid day off on the wedding day of their immediate family or their partner’s immediate family; applicable in Quebec only
  • Legal proceedings: Employees are entitled to unpaid time off for jury services and for acting as witnesses. The leave is not applicable to those in lawsuits.
  • Organ donation: In Ontario, the leave is up to 13 weeks of unpaid leave for employees donating organs or tissue. In Quebec, the leave is 26 weeks, and the first two days may be paid if the employee hasn’t used their entitlement to two paid days off due to illness, domestic violence, or to care for a loved one. In Saskatchewan, the leave is up to 26 weeks, unpaid.
  • Nomination or election: Nomination, election and candidate, and public office leaves are unpaid and are for as many days as required. This type of leave applies to municipal, provincial/territorial, federal, school board, and band council nominations, elections, and offices in Saskatchewan only (must work for more than 13 weeks consecutively to be eligible).

Covid-19 leave

Employees are entitled to an unpaid leave if they need to quarantine, shield, and/or are recovering from the virus or caring for a relative who tested positive. The length of the leave depends on the province and specifics of the situation. The government of Canada is also offering various benefits to Canadians who are unable to work due to COVID-19, including the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

In Alberta, employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid leave due to reasons related to COVID-19.

British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island don’t specify how long the unpaid leave can last. Employers should refer to the relevant regulation in each province to determine who is eligible and to follow the proper protocol/procedure.

This leave is in place until the end of September 2021.

Leave of absence for members of the reserve force

Employees who have been working for their employer for at least three months are entitled to unpaid leave to assist the country in the following situations:

  • An operation designated by the Minister of National Defence in Canada or abroad
  • An activity set out in the regulations
  • Canadian Armed Forces military skills training
  • Training ordered under the National Defence Act
  • Lawful duties ordered under the National Defence Act
  • Service in aid of a civil power under the National Defence Act
  • Treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation from physical or mental health problems that resulted from service in an operation or activity listed in the Labour Code

Duration of a leave may vary by province/territory, as follows:

  • Federal jurisdiction, Nova Scotia: 24 months of leave in a 60-month period
  • Alberta (if employed for 26 consecutive weeks), British Columbia: 20 days for training and as many days as needed for emergencies, unpaid
  • Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories: as required by Canadian Forces Reserve, unpaid
  • New Brunswick: 30 days for training and 18 months for other purposes
  • Quebec: 15 days for training and 18 months for other purposes
  • Nunavut: the leave not covered by the Labour Standards Act
  • Yukon: 15 days for training and as many days as needed for other purposes
This page was last updated on 12th July, 2021. If you have questions about this page, send us an email.