Canada Leave Laws
Personal Time Off, Vacation Time, Sick Leave, Paid Holidays, Pregnancy Leave, Jury Duty Leave
The following article covers all relevant Canada Leave Laws. It is meant to be a reference only. More information can be found on the official government website.
Canada Leave Laws & Holidays
Canada has two types of statutory holidays:
- Federal statutory holidays – Canada Labour Code, Part III outlines nine yearly paid holidays that are applicable to all provinces.
- New Year’s Day – 1st January
- Good Friday – 2 days before Easter Sunday
- Victoria Day – Monday preceding May 25th
- Canada Day – 1st July
- Labour Day – first Monday of September
- Thanksgiving Day – second Monday of October
- Remembrance Day – 11th November
- Christmas Day – 25th December
- Boxing Day – 26th December
Statutory holiday pay rates refer to an employee’s wage and entitlements when they have to work on public holidays.
- Provincial statutory holidays are paid territory-specific holidays. Every province and territory has its own jurisdiction which considerably varies regarding the rules and requirements.
Canada Leave Laws & Accruals
PTO (Paid Time Off)
Vacation time or annual leave is accrued after the first year of employment. Moreover, Vacation pay is earned the moment employment begins. In most provinces and territories employees are entitled to 2 consecutive weeks of vacation leave and the additional week after certain years of service. An employer may not restrict a team member to fewer than two weeks of vacation after their first year of employment, but the minimum amount of vacation time depends on province and territory laws. For additional information about specific province or territory go to this link.
Vacation pay is defined as a percentage of the wages of an employee during the year of employment in respect of which the employee is entitled to the vacation. For this reason, there is no difference between the method used for tracking vacation pay for salaried and hourly employees.
An employee is usually entitled to receive vacation pay within 14 days prior to the commencement of a vacation. It is ultimately an agreement between the employee and the employer. Upon termination of employment, the employer must pay any vacation pay owed for the partially or completed year of employment.
- Personal days – Sick Leave
Employees are entitled to take no more than five days of leave per calendar year for the following reasons:
- heal from an injury or illness,
- take care of health obligations for any member of their family or care for them,
- take care of obligations related to the education of any family member under age 18,
- manage any urgent situation that concerns them or a family member,
- attend their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act, or
- manage any other situation prescribed by regulation.
Employees who have worked for the employers 3 consecutive months are entitled to paid first three days of leave at the regular rate of pay for a normal workday. Such paid leave is considered wages.
Employees who have worked fewer than three consecutive months are entitled to unpaid leave.
Rollovers and payout of unused hours
- Use-it-or-lose-it policy
The use-it-or-lose-it policy is illegal in Canada.
- PTO payout at the termination
Vacation is considered wages and employers are required to pay any unused accrued tome upon the termination.
If an employee is terminated or quits prior to being able to use their vacation pay, before the end of the first year of employment, the amount accrued time must be paid out within a certain period of time following the dismissal or directly upon termination.
Maternity-related reassignment and leave, maternity leave and parental leave
- Maternity-related reassignment and leave
An employee who is pregnant or nursing may request job modification or reassignment to another job if any of her current job assignments may cause a risk to:
- her health
- the health of her unborn child, or
- the health of her baby
Employees are required to provide a certificate from a qualified medical practitioner indicating how long the risk is likely to last and what activities or conditions should be avoided in order to eliminate the risk.
The employee is entitled to take unpaid leave for the duration of the risk as indicated in the medical certificate if the accommodation is not practicable.
- Paid Leave
Employees who have made a request for a job modification or reassignment are entitled to take paid leave while their employers are considering their request and until the employer modifies their job function, reassigns them or informs them that it is not reasonably practicable to modify their job functions or reassign them.
- Maternity leave
Employers are required to provide up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave to all female employees. This applies to all biological and adoptive parents. Employees are entitled to take leave any time during the period that begins 13 weeks before the expected date of delivery and ends 17 weeks after the actual delivery date.
- Parental leave
Employers are required to provide both biological and adoptive parents with up to 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Parents are allowed to share parental leave in order to receive 8 additional weeks of leave. Parents who share leave can access 71 weeks of leave. It can be taken any time during the 78-week period starting the day the child is born or the day the child comes into their care.
Parents sharing the parental leave, who combine their maternity and parental leaves, may access up to 86 weeks of total leave. Only parental leave may be shared.
Parents who work for different employers must combine their parental leave.
Parental leave may be interrupted by the following leaves:
- compassionate care leave
- leave related to critical illness
- leave related to death or disappearance of a child
- medical leave
- work-related illness and injury leave
- reservist leave (except for the purposes of annual training)
Medical Leave, Compassionate Care Leave and Leave for victims of family violence
- Medical Leave
Employers are required to provide up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave to all employees. Employees are required to provide a certificate if the leave is 3 days or longer. This kind of leave also applies to a work-related illness or injury. Employees must apply to a plan that replaces the wages. The rate is equivalent to workers’ compensation provided by a specific province or territory. Employers may provide job reinstatement if it is reasonable. An employer can offer long-term disability benefits to its employees to protect them financially.
Leave may be interrupted in order to take: medical leave or work-related illness and injury leave.
Employees are allowed to interrupt following leaves in order to take medical or work-related illness and injury leave: parental leave, compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness, and leave related to death or disappearance.
- Compassionate care leave
Employers are required to provide up to 28 weeks of unpaid leave within a 52 – week period to employees to take care of a family member with a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. Employees can use leave more than once within a period of 52 weeks in shorter non-consecutive periods. Two or more employees are allowed to share leave if they look after the same family member. However, it must not exceed 28 weeks within 52 weeks.
Employers may require a certificate from a health practitioner.
- Employees are entitled to up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to look after a critically ill child and up to 37 weeks for each child if the employee has 2 or more seriously ill children.
- Up to 17 weeks to provide care for an ill adult. Employees must provide a certificate to their employers.
These leaves can be interrupted in order to take: medical leave or work-related illness and injury leave
- Leave for victims of family violence
Employers are required to provide up to 10 days leave for the employees who are victims of family violence or the parents of a child who is a victim of family violence. Eligible employees, who have worked for 3 consecutive months for the same employer are entitled to paid the first five days of leave. Leave can be taken more than once.
Employees may take leave for the following reasons:
- to seek medical attention for themselves or their child in respect of a physical or psychological injury of disability
- to obtain services from an organization which provides services to victims of family violence
- for the obtention of psychological or other professional counseling
- for temporary or permanent relocation
- to seek legal or law enforcement assistance or to prepare for or participate in any civil or criminal legal proceeding, or
- to take any measure prescribed by regulation
Written notice is required.
Canada Leave Laws & Jury Duty Leave
All employers are required to provide employees with unpaid leave to perform their duties as a:
- juror, or
- candidate in a jury selection process
Employees are required to provide written notice to their employers, who may also require supporting documents from the employee.
Bereavement Leave and Leave related to death or disappearance of a child
- Bereavement Leave
All employees are entitled to up to 5 days of unpaid leave due to the death of an immediate family member. Employees who have worked for 3 consecutive months for the employer are entitled to receive the payment for the first three days of leave.
The employee can take this leave starting the day on which:
- the death occurs ending 6 weeks after the date of the funeral
- the burial,
- or the memorial service of that immediate family member
- Leave related to death or disappearance of a child
Employees are entitled to unpaid leave if they suffered death or disappearance of a child who is younger than 18 years of age, as a result of the probable crime. Employees may take:
- 52 weeks of leave in the case of a missing child, and
- 104 weeks of leave if the child has died
If an employee has 2 or more children younger than 18 years of age who are murdered or have disappeared during the same event, the duration of leave is the same as for one child.
If the employee has 2 or more children who are murdered or have disappeared as a result of different events, the employee is entitled to take:
- 52 weeks of leave for each of the affected child, if they have disappeared, and
- up to 104 weeks of leave for each of the affected child, if they are murdered
Employees are not eligible to take leave if they are charged with the crime or if the child participated in the crime.
Canada Leave Laws & Reservist Leave
Employers are required to provide employees who have been employed for three consecutive months with the same employer with up to 24 months of unpaid leave in a 60-month period. Employees are entitled to:
- a leave of absence from their civilian employment
- take part in annual training or in certain military operations in Canada or abroad by the Minister of National Defence
- train, or
- report for duty under the National Defence Act
Employees are required to provide a 4 weeks written notice to the employer, providing the following information:
- the duration of the leave, unless the employee has a valid reason not to do so
- his intention to extend or shorten the leave, unless the employee has a valid reason not to do so
Employees may be also required to provide a document approved by the Chief of the Defence Staff or a document from their Commander within 3 weeks after the start date of the leave.