Skip to main content

The Question

My wife works at a small company in Ontario, which has less than 10 staff including the owner. She gets two weeks of vacation but she has no say as to when she may take her vacation days. There are 10 statutory holidays and the owner has mandated that the office close on the day before a long weekend and that the day the office is closed be counted as a vacation day for payroll. Is this legal? If it is not, what can my wife do to change this?

The Answer

Story continues below advertisement

The company cannot force your wife to take a vacation day before a statutory holiday because it decides to close the office that day. She has a right to take her vacation in a two-week block or two separate one-week periods, so she cannot be made to separate her vacation time into one-day vacations before long weekends. Vacation time can only be separated into periods shorter than one or two weeks with an employee's consent.

These rules are generally the same across Canada, except in federally regulated workplaces (banks, telecommunications companies, radio and television and transportation) where vacation time can be divided to less than a week at a time.

But aside from being entitled to a vacation of at least one week at a time, employees do not have a right to take vacation whenever they chose. Employers are legally allowed to set vacation periods for their staff, although most workplaces co-ordinate time off with their employees even if they are not technically required to do so.

If your wife objects to the mandatory vacation days, she can send her employer a copy of the relevant portion of the legislation (in this case, Section 35 of Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000) and ask that the owner voluntarily comply with the section; or she can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, which investigates and enforces alleged violations of the law. All provinces have similar enforcement tribunals.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes. E-mail: Dan@canadaemploymentlawyer.com

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies