Annual Vacation

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Would you like to know how much vacation you’re entitled to, how to calculate your vacation pay, or who decides when you can take your vacation? If you are covered by a law called the Act respecting labour standards, you’ll find the answers to your questions here.

The act applies to most employees in Quebec, even those covered by a collective agreement decree.

Many workers are not covered, or are not partly covered, by the Act.

To find out if the Act applies to you, see our article Workplace Protections in Quebec.

Amount of Vacation and Vacation Pay

The amount of annual vacation and vacation pay is determined according to the following two factors:  

  1. the reference year, which is a period of 12 consecutive months that runs from May 1 to April 30 
  2. the number of years that you have worked for your employer (your “service”) 

Important! Your service is counted as uninterrupted even if certain events have interrupted your work, such as a sick leave or a temporary layoff. 

Amount of Vacation: What the Law Says

Your situation on April 30

Your rights

Less than one year of uninterrupted service.

One day for each month of service up to a maximum of two weeks’ vacation.

More than one year, but less than three years, of uninterrupted service.

Two weeks paid vacation. You can also ask for an extra week without pay.

Three years or more of uninterrupted service.

Three weeks’ paid vacation. 

Vacation Pay

Vacation pay is based on your gross earnings during the reference year. 

  • 4% of your gross earnings if you have less than three years of uninterrupted service 
  • 6% of your gross earnings if you have three years or more of uninterrupted service

Your employer must give you your vacation pay in one payment before your leave on vacation.

Do you work part-time? If you perform the same duties as the other employees in the company, your employer must grant you the same vacation and vacation pay as explained above.

The calculation of vacation pay will be based on your gross earnings during the reference year. 

Some workers are not entitled to annual vacation or vacation pay :

  • students employed by a vacation camp or by a non-profit community or social organization
  • interns or trainees working as part of a vocational training program recognized by law
  • real estate agents, representatives of a securities dealer, and insurance salespersons or claims adjusters, if they are paid on commission

Your employer can’t exchange your annual vacation time for payment, except in the following cases:

  • it’s allowed under a collective agreement or a collective agreement decree
  • your employer shuts down for two weeks for an annual vacation. In this case, your third week of vacation can be replaced by pay if your employer agrees to this.

Who Decides When You Take Your Vacation?

You employer has the right to decide when you can take your annual vacation. But she must let you know the dates at least four weeks in advance.

You have the right to take all your vacation at the same time. If you’re entitled to more than one week of vacation, you can ask your employer if you could divide your vacation.

If your employer closes during a specific time of the year (for example, the two weeks’ construction holidays), you will have to take your vacation at that time. If you’re entitled to more vacation time, you can ask to take the rest of your vacation at another time.

Important! As a general rule, you’re not allowed to accumulate your vacation over several years. In most cases, you have to take your vacation during the 12 months that follow the end of the reference year. But there are exceptions for employees who had to take time off for the following reasons:

  • absence due to sickness or an accident 
  • absence for family or parental reasons 
  • they have been victims of a crime  
  • they have been called to duty as reservists in the Canadian forces  

If you’re in one of these situations, you can ask to postpone your vacation to the following year. If your employer refuses, she must instead give you pay equivalent to your annual vacation.

If You Quit Your Job

Your employer must pay you for any accumulated vacation you haven’t taken, calculated according to the rules explained above. You are entitled to be paid for the following: 

  • vacation you didn’t take in the reference year that ended on April 30; and
  • accumulated vacation for the current reference year.

The Act respecting labour standards sets the minimum you are entitled to

You can always negotiate with your employer for more vacation pay or other benefits.

You might be entitled to more than the minimum if a collective agreement or a collective agreement decree allows it. Ask your union representative or parity committee in charge of supervising your collective agreement decree.