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As summer (finally!) rolls in and kids are off school, more and more people are starting to think about their vacation plans for the summer. But whether you think you might go the beach, camping, or even just enjoy some relaxing time in your own backyard, you want to double check that you are following any workplace policies or clauses in your employment contract that apply to your vacation. These may place restrictions on when you can take your vacation, and what can be done with it if you don’t take it.

Below, are five things to check before taking your vacation:

1. Required Notice – Some contracts require that you give two weeks’, three weeks’ or even a month's notice of when you want your days off. This can be for scheduling purposes, coverage, or a variety of other reasons. So check your employment contract, and any workplace policies, to see how much notice you have to give your employer of the time off you want to take. If you miss the deadline to give your employer notice, you can still ask for the days off, and you might still get them. However, you are better off to try and give the required notice, and you are probably more likely to get the vacation approved if you follow the necessary policies.

2. Length of Vacation – Some workplaces restrict the number of days in a row you can take off. For example, while you may get four weeks’ a year for vacation, there may be a restriction in your employment contract that says you cannot take more than two weeks’ at a time. So make sure to double check those types of things before you book your non-refundable four week trip. Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, your employer is required to give you your vacation in a minimum of one week intervals, unless you choose to take it in smaller increments. But, your employer is not obliged to give you all four weeks in a row, and there may even restrictions on you, as mentioned above.

3. Coverage – Another issue that arises around vacation is coverage. If you are one of only two people in the whole company that perform your task, chances are you can’t both be on vacation at once. If this is the case, try to coordinate with the other person, and you might be able to work out a schedule where one of you is always there, reducing the chances the employer denies your vacation request. Coverage issues are also a good reason to get your vacation request in as early as possible, as in some workplaces it is a first come, first served process.

Even if there are not direct coverage issues, make sure to leave your work in good order, and have a contact person designated for your work. That way, it is less likely that work will try and contact you while on vacation to resolve any problems that arise.

4. Have Enough Vacation Days – It is important to think about your vacation as a whole. Make sure to look at how Christmas or other meaningful holidays fall, to see if you will need additional vacation days to accommodate your plans then. While some employers might let you borrow vacation days from the upcoming year, not all employers will. So make sure you keep track of what vacation days you have used, and that you have sufficient days to cover all your plans (but also don’t forget to double check statutory holidays, as you don’t need a vacation day for those!)

5. Rolling-Over Unused Vacation – Lastly, in a busy year it is possible that you don’t get a chance to take your vacation. Or you may want to save up your vacation for a bigger trip (again, beware of restrictions on how many days in a row you can take). But before you work every day for three years to save up all your vacation for that tour around the world, check the policies and your employment contract. Sometimes Employers will only let you roll-over a certain amount of vacation and will pay you out for the rest. So it is important to look into this if you are planning a big trip.

Your vacation is supposed to bring you relaxation. Avoid any stresses in the planning of your vacation by knowing what is required by your Employer in terms of vacation timing, scheduling and roll-over.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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