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Canada Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off (PTO), Vacation Time, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, and Voting Leave

Table Of Contents

Paid Time Off (PTO) in Canada

Vacation Leave Quota

2 weeks (10 working days) after 1 year of employment for the same employer.

Employees (both full-time and part-time) are entitled to 2 weeks (10 working days)* of PTO for each completed year of employment. However, the government requires employers to give employees more time off based on their length of employment. 

Canadian employees are entitled to the following:

  • at least 2 weeks of vacation pay at 4% of their gross earnings, after 1 or more years of service
  • at least 3 weeks of vacation pay at 6% of their gross earnings, after 5 or more years of service
  • at least 4 weeks of vacation pay at 8% of their gross earnings, after 10 or more years of service

A “year of service” means 12 consecutive months of employment for the same employer.

Generally, an employee takes a vacation at a time that he or she has mutually agreed upon with their employer, or when the employer sets. When the employer chooses a vacation period, they must give the employee at least 2 weeks’ notice of when the vacation time will begin.

Employees can take their vacation all at once only if their employer allows them. An employer may require them to spread it out if, for example, it poses a risk to the business to let an employee away for a full month of earned vacation. Under the code, eligible employers may reach a collective agreement allowing employees to take their vacation all at once or spread it out over multiple periods.

*Saskatchewan is the one exception, legislating a minimum of three weeks.


Accrual is not mandatory in Canada, but it is widely used by companies.

Employers are generally free to design their own vacation accrual system, such as weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly increments. The accrual system is usually based on the pay period (payroll cycle). The payroll cycle in Canada is bi-monthly.

PTO accrues daily. Employees must use their accrued vacation time within the 12 months in which it was accrued.

Roll Over (Carry Over, Brought Forward)

The “use it or lose it” policy is illegal in Canada, unlike in the USA.

A “use it or lose it” policy forbids employees from rolling over earned, unused vacation from one year into the next one. Therefore, the employee’s vacation time not taken is lost.

This kind of policy is illegal in Canada.

Annual Vacation Pay

Paid vacation time must be treated as wages.

An employee is usually entitled to receive vacation pay within 14 days before the commencement of a vacation. If this is not practical or it is standard practice in your workplace, your employer may pay it during or immediately after your vacation. It is ultimately an agreement between the employee and the employer.

Payment of Accrued, Unused Vacation on Termination

Upon termination of employment, the employer must pay any vacation pay owed.

When employment ends (for example, when the job is terminated or an employee quits), an employee is entitled to vacation pay that they have earned but have not yet been paid. It’s important to remember that each province determines which earnings are “vacationable” and will be taken into account when determining the right to vacation pay.


The employer is responsible for paying any unpaid vacation time upon termination of employment.

Sick Leave in Canada

Entitled sick time may vary per province.

Employees who have worked for the same employer for three consecutive months are eligible for up to 17 weeks of sick time for illness, medical appointments, or organ and tissue donations. Employers may request a note from a doctor if an employee’s sick days exceed three days. If an employer requests documentation, all employees must provide a doctor’s note certifying illness within 15 days of returning to work. Sick leave can be interrupted by other types of leave. For instance, a worker on maternity leave may interrupt that leave to take sick time. When the employee returns from sick leave, the original leave period continues.

Personal Leave – (can be used for sick days)

Employees are entitled to take no more than 5 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 the age of 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.

If an employee has been with the company for 3 months or more, 3 of the 5 “personal leave” days are paid at the regular rate of pay for a normal workday. Employees who have worked fewer than three consecutive months are entitled to unpaid leave.


Significant Changes to the Employee Paid Sick Leave Regime

On December 17, 2021, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code (Bill C-3) received Royal Assent. This bill amends Part III of the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated private sector employees up to a maximum of 10 days of paid sick leave each calendar year. Part III of the Canada Labour Code (CLC) will affect employers with 100 or more employees. (The federally regulated private sector includes workplaces from a wide range of industries, including interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation, banks, and postal and courier services.) 

The regulations’ final version will be released and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette in the autumn of 2022. The legislation is currently scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2022.

Employees will receive 3 days of paid sick leave – 30 days after the changes take effect.

After 30 days of continuous employment with the employer, new employees will receive 3 days of paid sick leave.

After 1 month of continuous employment with the employer, employees will earn 1 day of paid sick leave for every month of work.

Unused paid sick leave days roll over to the following calendar year and count toward the ten-day cap for that year.

If a medical leave of absence with pay lasts more than 5 days continuously, the employer may ask for a medical note.

If employers provide superior sick leave benefits to their employees, those benefits are not in addition to the potential 10 days. The amendments remove “personal illness or injury” from the reasons that “personal leave” may be taken under the CLC. “Personal leave” is currently available for up to 5 days per year for a variety of reasons, including family responsibilities, urgent matters concerning employees or their families, or employees attending citizenship ceremonies. Check the section above, Personal Days – Sick Leave.

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

EI sickness benefits can provide employees with up to fifteen weeks of financial assistance if they can’t work for medical reasons. An employee could receive 55% of his or her earnings, up to a maximum of $638 a week. Employees must get a medical certificate to show that they are unable to work for medical reasons. Medical reasons include an illness, an injury, a quarantine, or any other medical condition that prevents an employee from working.

To read more about EI sickness benefits, visit the official government website.


In Canada, sickness benefits are federal and funded by Employment Insurance (EI).

Maternity, Paternity, and Parental Leave in Canada

Employers are not required to pay workers or offer benefits while they are on maternity, paternity, or parental leave (the federal Employment Insurance program does it).

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave and benefits can be taken for up to 15 weeks. This can start as early as 12 weeks before the expected date of birth and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of delivery. 

An employee must provide her employer with a certificate from a health care practitioner confirming that she is pregnant. She must also give her employer written notice at least four weeks before starting her leave. This notice must advise the employer of the length of the leave.

Maternity Benefits

Length of leave: Up to 15 weeks.

Payment (% of salary): Up to 55% of an employee’s earnings.

Weekly Maximum: Up to a maximum of 638 CAD a week.

This 55% is just what the federal government provides. Some employers provide additional money to employees on maternity or parental leave. This is called a ”top-up”. So, the federal government will give 55% of the salary, and the employer might give an employee more to earn a higher portion of their total salary.

Pregnant and Nursing Leave

In addition to maternity leave, if an employee is unable to work because of pregnancy or nursing, they are eligible for unpaid leave—from the start of a pregnancy until 24 weeks after birth.  

Paternity Leave

In Canada, paternity leave is part of parental leave, which means that both parents can use this time off together, but at least 5 weeks are reserved for the father.

Parental Leave

After maternity leave ends, either parent can take parental leave. While mothers take maternity leave near delivery and post-delivery, parental leave is offered to both mothers and fathers to care for their child after birth or adoption. It can be taken at any time during the 78-week period (1.5 year) starting from the day the child is born or the day the child comes into their care. Along the parental leave comes parental benefits.

Parental Benefits

Parental benefits are available to the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.

Employees can choose between 2 options:

  • **Standard parental benefits **
  • Extended parental benefits

Both parents can take this leave, but it has to be split. Their choice of benefit determines the number of weeks and the weekly amount they’ll receive.

Standard Parental Benefits

Length of leave: Up to 40 weeks, but one parent can’t receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits.

Payment (% of salary): Up to 55% of an employee’s earnings.

Weekly Maximum: Up to a maximum of 638 CAD a week.

Example: A mother takes the maximum: 15 weeks of maternity + 35 weeks of standard parental = 50 weeks in total. That leaves 5 weeks for the father (paternity leave).

If a mother takes less, for example, 15 weeks of maternity + 30 weeks of standard parental, that leaves a father 10 weeks.

Extended Parental Benefits

Length of leave: Up to 69 weeks, but one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks of extended benefits.

Payment (% of salary): Up to 33% of an employee’s earnings.

Weekly Maximum: Up to a maximum of 383 CAD a week.

Example: A mother takes the maximum: 15 weeks of maternity + 61 weeks of extended parental = 76 weeks in total. That leaves 8 weeks for the father (paternity leave).

If a mother takes less, for example, 15 weeks of maternity + 39 weeks of standard parental, that leaves a father 30 weeks for paternity leave. 

If you need more information about this subject, check out our detailed guide on maternity leave in Canada, and paternity leave in Canada.

Quebec has different maternity and paternity leave rules, so please visit the page on Quebec leave laws.


In Canada, maternity and parental benefits are federal and funded by Employment Insurance (EI) except for in the province of Quebec (from a separate provincial plan, the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)).

Bereavement Leave in Canada (Funeral Leave)

Up to 10 days, first 3 days are paid.

All employees are entitled to up to 10 days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member. Employees who have worked for 3 consecutive months for their employer are entitled to receive payment for the first 3 days of leave.

An employee can take this leave starting the day on which the death occurs and ending 6 weeks after the date of the:

  • funeral
  • burial
  • memorial service of that immediate family member

The leave of absence may be taken for one or two periods. The employer may require that any period of leave be of not less than one day’s duration. Employees must provide their employer with written notice as soon as possible, indicating the start date and length of the leave. The employer may extend the period of employees’ leave of absence at their request.


An employer pays 3 days for employees who have worked for 3 consecutive months for the company.

Leave for Court or Jury Duty Leave in Canada

All employers must provide employees with unpaid leave.

All employers are required to provide employees with unpaid leave to perform their duties as:

  • a witness
  • a juror
  • a 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.


Employers in Canada are not required to pay employees for leave for court or jury duty.

Reservist Leave in Canada (Leave of Absence for Members of the Reserve Force)

Employers must provide an employee with unpaid, job-protected leave.

Employers are required to provide employees who have been employed for 3 consecutive months with the same employer with up to 24 months of unpaid leave in 60 months.

Employees can use this leave of absence to take part in:

  • an operation in Canada or abroad that is designated by the Minister of National Defence
  • an activity set out in the regulations
  • military training for the Canadian Armed Forces
  • training that you are ordered to take under the National Defence Act
  • under the National Defence Act, any lawful duty other than training
  • service in aid of a civil power for which an employee is called out under the National Defence Act
  • treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation in respect of a physical or mental health problem that results from service in an operation or activity listed in the Code

To take this leave, employees have to provide 4 weeks’ written notice to their employer indicating:

  • the duration of the leave, unless an employee gives a valid reason not to do so
  • an employee’s intention to extend or shorten the leave, unless an employee has a valid reason not to do so

Employees may also be 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.

Once employees get back to work, their employers must reinstate them in their former position or give them a comparable position in the same location and with the same wages and benefits. If an employee is no longer able to perform the function of the original position, or those of a comparable position, their employer may assign them to a different position with different terms and conditions of employment.

An employer isn’t required to contribute to the following while an employee is on reservist leave:

  • pension plans
  • health insurance
  • disability insurance, or
  • other employee benefits


Reservist leave is unpaid.

Voting Leave in Canada

Employers are required to provide 3 hours of paid leave for voting.

By law, all employees who are “electors” (Canadian citizens who are 18 years of age or older, and registered to vote) are entitled to 3 consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If the work hours of an employee don’t allow for 3 consecutive hours to vote, their employer must give them time off. This time off is paid.

Example: If Employee A lives in an electoral district where voting hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and he usually works from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., his hours of work will not allow 3 consecutive hours for voting. To give him 3 consecutive hours to vote, an employer could allow him to arrive late (at 12:30 p.m.), let him leave early (at 6:30 p.m.), or give him three hours off at some point during the work day.

An employer has the right to decide when in the day to give this time off.

The law applies to all employers. However, for employers who operate companies that transport goods or passengers by land, air, or water, the obligation to provide three consecutive hours may not apply to some of their employees.

It is an offense for employers to fail to provide time off for voting if required under the Canada Elections Act.


An employer may not make a deduction from pay, nor impose any other form of penalty, for the time that their employees are at the polls. Employees must receive full pay for the day, regardless of the basis upon which they are paid.

Canada’s Public Holidays

Canada has two types of statutory holidays:

  • Federal statutory holidays – Canada Labour Code, Part III outlines 10 yearly paid holidays that are applicable to all provinces.
  • Provincial statutory holidays are paid territory-specific holidays. Every province and territory has its own jurisdiction which considerably varies regarding the rules and requirements. Please visit our pages for each province to see the full list of provincial statutory holidays.

Complete list of federal statutory holidays recognized and celebrated by Canada:

Date Holiday
January 1 New Year’s Day
2 days before Easter Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
Monday preceding May 25th Victoria Day
July 1 Canada Day
First Monday of September Labour Day
September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Second Monday of October Thanksgiving Day
November 11 Remembrance Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

When a general holiday falls on a non-working day

If the following general holidays fall on a Saturday or Sunday that is a non-working day for employees, they are entitled to a holiday with pay on a working day immediately before or after the general holiday:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Canada Day
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Remembrance Day
  • Christmas Day, or
  • Boxing Day

If one of the other general holidays, not listed directly above, falls on a non-working day for employees, then a holiday with pay may be added to their annual vacation. It can be granted as a holiday with pay at a time convenient to both them and their employer.

Statutory holiday pay rates refer to an employee’s wage and entitlements when they have to work on public holidays.


  1. Federal Labor Standards (official government website), https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/workplace/federal-labour-standards.html
  2. Justice Laws Website (Government of Canada), https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/L-2/page-1.html
  3. Annual vacations and general holidays for federally regulated employees, https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/workplace/federal-labour-standards/vacations-holidays.html
  4. Types of leave you can receive as an employee working in federally regulated industries and workplaces, https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/workplace/federal-labour-standards/leaves.html
  5. Everything you need to know about hiring an employee in Canada, https://www.deel.com/employees/canada

Updated: October 6, 2022

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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