What are the New Vacation Entitlements under Bill 148?

Bill 148Bill 148 Vacations has brought significant amendments to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, including changes to vacation entitlements.  Over the past couple of months, SpringLaw presented a series of Bill 148 webinars to our clients. We designed this series to help our employer clients get acquainted with all the changes introduced by the Bill 148 amendments.

We covered the following topics:

  • Overview and Wage Changes                                  
  • Record Keeping and Policy Changes
  • Leaves, Scheduling and Vacation
  • Changes Affecting Unionized Workplaces

We will also be shortly releasing an Employer’s Guide to Bill 148, which includes an ebook, 4 training webinars and other materials to get employers up to comprehensively speed. Stay tuned!

My favourite part of any live presentation is the audience questions. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting some common Bill 148 questions and our answers. To start us off here is one about vacations.

Q: Under Bill 148 Changes, what is the effect of lay-off periods when determining whether or not a seasonal employee is entitled to the vacation increase?

A: Under the Bill 148 amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, employees with five or more years of service to the employer are entitled to three weeks of vacation annually, up from two weeks.

The new section 33 reads:

Right to vacation

33 (1) An employer shall give an employee a vacation of,

(a) at least two weeks after each vacation entitlement year that the employee completes, if the employee’s period of employment is less than five years; or

(b) at least three weeks after each vacation entitlement year that the employee completes, if the employee’s period of employment is five years or more. 2017, c. 22, Sched. 1, s. 21.

The changes make the length of employment relevant. How is the length of employment calculated when the employee does not work throughout the year?

Unless there is a break in the employment relationship, meaning the employee quit or was terminated, the employee will continue to accrue seniority regardless of whether or not he or she is on a leave of absence (parental leave, family caregiver leave, etc.) or a temporary lay-off. Therefore, employees who have been consistently employed for five or more years are entitled to the vacation increase. This will be true even if there have been periods of lay-off in those five years.

Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, both active and inactive periods of employment are included when calculating entitlement to vacation. There are no industry exemptions for entitlement to vacation.

Many employers may now find themselves with contracts that are unenforceable due to the changes to vacation and other new entitlements. If you need help making sure that your documents are compliant, we’d be pleased to assist.

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