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Vacation Days are Not Equal Among Affluent Countries


Canada Rated Third Lowest Country for Holidays

By: Corinne Sato, Staff Writer

Image Courtesy of: gocanada.org

Image Courtesy of: gocanada.org

With summer approaching, many Canadians may be looking at taking time off for holidays. However, the majority of Canadians are only entitled to two weeks of paid vacation. That may not seem too bad, until you compare Canada to 21 other affluent countries.

The Centre of Economic and Policy Research recently released “No-Vacation Nation Revisited,” a comprehensive report, “of the latest available data on International Standards for paid vacation and paid studies.”

In the report, researchers Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes and John Schmidtt studied 21 countries and found that Canada was the third lowest country to provide paid vacation days.

“Workers in the European Union are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year, with 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries. Canada and Japan guarantee at least 10 days of paid vacation per year. U.S. workers have no statutory right to paid vacations,” according to the Press Release.

According to the report, the US Government encourages businesses to provide vacation pay on a voluntary basis, and the government is not involved with allocation paid vacation days.[pullquote] In Newfoundland, workers have to be at a job for 15 years before they receive the extra week.[/pullquote]

However, despite austerity measures and financial debts, “countries in the European Union (EU) have a Working Time Directive (1993) that sets a vacation floor for all EU countries of 4 weeks or 20 days of paid vacation per year,” according to the report.

Besides paid vacation leave, “the authors of the report also found that several foreign countries offer additional time off for younger and older workers, shift workers, and those engaged in community service such as jury duty or for union duties, getting married, or moving,” says the Press Release.

“In Canada, (vacation) leave provisions vary from province to province,” the report explains. “Most jurisdictions (in Canada) follow a similar pattern of two weeks paid annual leave, which increases by one week after a significant job tenure.”

Saskatchewan is the only province that guarantees workers three week paid vacation. However, all of the other provinces and territories guarantee two weeks paid vacation, the report says.

In Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Nunavut and Quebec, workers can expect an extra week of paid vacation after five years of work. In Newfoundland, workers have to be at a job for 15 years before they receive the extra week. However, “in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Yukon, the guarantee amount of paid leave does not increase with job tenure,” it says.

However, not everyone is entitled to vacation. In Alberta, construction workers are not entitled to vacation time.

On the Government of Alberta’s Human Services Website, it says, “because of the nature of employment in the construction industry, there is no requirement for construction employers to provide their employees with vacation time.”

Even if you think two weeks is not enough, unfortunately in Alberta workers are not allowed to bank their vacation time.“Vacation must be taken sometime in the 12 months after the employee becomes entitled to the vacation,” it says.

Regardless of the small amount of time we have for vacation, make the most of it by enjoying the time off with family and friends.

Corinne Sato is a freelance journalist and photographer, who likes to bake, cook and travel.

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