Can an employee be required to use vacation during a temporary shutdown?

Temporary shutdown can lead to vacation or temporary layoff
By Colin Gibson
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/08/2019

Question: If an employer shuts down its operations for a short period of time can it order employees to use some of their annual vacation entitlement for that period of time? What are the options if an employee has already used her vacation time for the year?

Answer: Employers have a general right to dictate when employees take vacation. In the unionized context, this right is subject to the terms of the collective agreement. In the non-union context, management may schedule vacation time according to business needs, unless the employment agreement provides otherwise.

Provincial employment standards legislation requires that employers allow employees to take their vacation in periods of one or more consecutive weeks unless otherwise requested by the employee and agreed upon by the employer. Employees are also required to take their vacation within 12 months of earning it, although an employer can request that employees take their vacation days before earning them. If an employer wishes to do so, it must explain the impact this will have on future vacation entitlements and obtain the employee’s approval.