Employee refuses to take vacation

How to handle vacation time versus vacation pay when owed
By Stuart Rudner
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/04/2013

Question: How should an employer handle an employee who doesn’t want to take her vacation? Should the employee be forced to take time off or should the employer just pay the employee vacation pay in lieu?

Answer: Perhaps surprisingly, this is an issue that comes up fairly often. Statistics have shown many Canadians don’t take advantage of their full entitlement to vacation each year and, in many cases, employers are content to allow the situation to continue. However, what is an employer to do when employees refuse to take vacation even after being instructed she must do so?

To begin with, we must distinguish between the statutorily-required vacation and anything that has been offered beyond that. In Ontario, for example, every employee is entitled to two weeks of vacation per year according to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. I note, however, that this accrues at the end of the first year of employment. Technically, employees are not statutorily entitled to vacation during their first year of employment, though many employers offer vacation anyway.