What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions concerning vacations that protect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.

How vacations are determined

Entitlement to a vacation is acquired during a period of 12 consecutive months. Known as the reference year, this period extends from May 1st to April 30th, except if the employer, a decree or an agreement sets other dates.

The length of the vacation is established based on the employee’s period of uninterrupted service. As for the amount of the indemnity, it varies according to the wages earned during the reference year in effect in the enterprise.

Uninterrupted service at the end of the reference year Length of vacation Indemnity
Less than one year 1 day per full month of uninterrupted service
without exceeding 2 weeks
4 %
1 year to less than 5 years 2 uninterrupted weeks 4 %
5 years and over 3 uninterrupted weeks 6 %

For an employee of the clothing industry, the length of the vacation and the amount of the indemnity vary as follows:

Uninterrupted service at the end of the reference year Length of vacation Indemnity
Less than one year 1 day per full month of uninterrupted service
without exceeding 2 weeks
4 %
1 year to less than 3 years 3 weeks, 2 weeks of which are continuous 6 %
3 years and over 4 weeks, 3 weeks of which are continuous 8 %

Employees who work in clothing stores are not part of the clothing industry.

See the Regulation

Going on vacation

The employer has the privilege of setting the date of vacations. However:

  • he must inform the employee of the date of his vacation at least 4  weeks ahead of time
  • he cannot replace the vacation with a compensatory indemnity, except in the following cases:
  1. when a collective agreement or a decree provides for a specific provision to this effect
  2. when the establishment closes for 2 weeks during the vacation and when an employee entitled to 3 weeks asks to have the last week replaced with an indemnity.

Vacation taken early

If an employee requests it, the employer may allow him to take his vacation, in whole or in part, during the reference year. They have the responsibility of establishing together what proportion of the indemnity will be paid. This proportion may:

  • correspond to the wages earned since the start of the reference year or during the entire reference year
  • be proportional to the length of the vacation.

Can an employer decide on his own that vacations will always be taken early in his enterprise?

No. If an employer gives a vacation to an employee who did not request it, the employer cannot say that this is an early vacation.

Postponed vacation

An employee may ask to postpone his vacation to the following year if, at the end of the 12 months that follow the end of the reference year, he is absent or on leave:

  • due to sickness or accident
  • for family or parental reasons.

The employer has the right to refuse this request. The employer must then pay the employee the vacation indemnity to which he is entitled.

Division of the vacation

If an employee’s vacation lasts more than one week:

  • he may ask to have the vacation divided into two periods. The employer could, however, refuse if the enterprise closes during the annual vacation or for a longer period
  • With the permission of the employer, he could divide his vacation in more than two periods (for example: 8 Mondays).

If, prior to March 29, 1995, the enterprise closed down during the vacation and has continued to do so ever since, the employer may impose the division of the vacation in:

  • a period of less than 2 uninterrupted weeks
  • a period corresponding to the length of the closure.

An employee is entitled to an uninterrupted vacation. That is why vacations of less than a week cannot be divided.

Leave without pay

An employee who is already entitled to 2 weeks of vacation can request an additional leave of one week without pay, which would increase the total leave to 3 weeks. The employer cannot refuse him this leave. The employee cannot, however, demand to take this leave following his other 2 weeks of vacation. This additional leave cannot be divided.

Part-time employees and their vacation

An employer cannot reduce the length of a part-time employee’s vacation or modify the method of calculation of his indemnity in relation to that of the other employees who perform the same work in the same establishment simply because he works fewer hours per week.

If an employer dismisses an employee who took his vacation early and received his indemnity, is the employee entitled to 4% or 6% of his wages when he leaves?
Yes. The employer must pay him the 4% or 6% of the wages that he earned during the current reference year. The vacation that he had taken prior to his dismissal was that which he had accumulated in the previous year.

Exceptions    

Some employees subject to the Act respecting labour standards are excluded from the provisions related to vacations. They are:

  • a student employed in a vacation camp or in a social or community non-profit organization such as a recreational organization
  • a real estate agent within the meaning of the Real Estate Brokerage Act (chapter C-73.1), remunerated entirely on commission
  • a representative of a dealer or an advisor within the meaning of the Securities Act (section 149, chapter V-1.1), remunerated entirely on commission
  • a representative within the meaning of the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services (1998, chapter 37), remunerated entirely on commission
  • a trainee within the framework of a vocational training program recognized by law.

How to calculate the indemnity

Depending on the length of uninterrupted service, the vacation indemnity equals 4% or 6% of the gross annual wages earned by the employee during the reference year. He must receive his indemnity in a single payment, prior to the start of his vacation.

For an employee of the clothing industry, the indemnity is 4%, 6% or 8% of the gross annual wages earned during the reference year.
A maternity or paternity leave does not reduce the length of uninterrupted service. As a result, it does not affect the calculation of the annual vacation indemnity. If an employee earned wages during the reference year, he is not penalized if he was absent due to sickness or accident.

Must the amounts earned for overtime be included in the calculation of the vacation indemnity?

Yes. The wages earned during the reference year include performance bonuses, the payment of overtime, reported and attributed tips, as well as statutory holiday and vacation indemnities.

How to calculate the indemnity

The Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail provides employers and employees with access to monCalcul, a tool designed to help calculate the amounts to which an employee is entitled according to the type of compensation in effect.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I ask to be paid for my vacation, rather than taking the time off? No.
    No. According to the Act, the payment and the taking of the vacation go hand in hand. There is only one exception to this rule: if the enterprise shuts down for 2 weeks during the vacation, an employee entitled to 3 weeks may ask that his last week be replaced with an indemnity.

  2. Can I ask to be paid my 4% with each pay every week?
    No. The vacation pay is given at the start of the vacation or when employment is terminated. Paying the 4% with each pay is an offence. Only farm workers hired for the day can receive their percentage of vacation indemnity with each pay.

  3. If an employer dismisses an employee who took his vacation early and received his indemnity, is the employee entitled to the 4% or 6% of his wages when he leaves?
    Yes. The employer must pay him the 4% or 6% of the wages he earned during the current reference year. The vacation that he had taken prior to his dismissal was that which he had accumulated in the previous year.

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