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Can I Be Forced to Take Vacation in Week-Long Blocks

Nothing beats vacation days and although some people love taking their vacation time in larger blocks, others prefer to have their vacation spaced out into smaller chunks throughout the year. Though many employers will attempt to accommodate employees’ requests there are many reasons why an employer may choose to impose restrictions on when vacation days can be taken.

In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Rahul Soni, Employment Lawyer at Soni Law Firm answered a question about whether it was legal for an employer to restrict an employee to take their vacation in one-week blocks at a time. It also covered whether an employer has the right to ask for decisions about vacation time to be made early in the year. In the Globe and Mail article, Rahul Soni stated the following.

According to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, an employee with fewer than five years of service with their employer must take their vacation in: (i) a two-week block or (ii) two separate one-week blocks, “unless the employee requests in writing that the vacation be taken in shorter periods and the employer agrees to that request.”

The same legislation requires that if an employee has five or more years of service with their employer, the employee must take their vacation in: (i) a three-week block; (ii) a two-week block and one-week block; or (iii) three one-week blocks, “unless the employee requests in writing that the vacation be taken in shorter periods and the employer agrees to that request.”

In unionized settings, the rules surrounding your vacation will be laid out in your collective bargaining agreement. In many cases, this will still stipulate that vacation must be requested early in the year and may have rules surrounding how it can be taken. A priority of vacation selection dates may be affected by factors such as workplace seniority as well.

Though it can be frustrating to employees, an employer can decide when you take your vacation time. As an employee, you are entitled to paid vacation time, but you may not always have a say as to when the vacation can be taken. In many cases, it is best to talk to your employer about what you would like when it comes to vacation and see if that helps you in getting the vacation time you want. It is generally in the best interest of the employer to accommodate vacation requests when they can in order to create a positive work environment.

If your employer is making changes to an existing vacation policy, it should be noted that this could constitute constructive dismissal. This is not a typical scenario, and it can be complicated to prove constructive dismissal based on this alone. It would be best to consult with a constructive dismissal lawyer to better understand your specific situation and determine what your best course of action is. For more information on constructive dismissal see our previous article How to Win a Constructive Dismissal Case in Ontario.

As an employee, it is important to understand your rights and entitlements. If you have concerns about any situation related to your employment it is a good idea to consult with a qualified and experienced employment lawyer.

At Soni Law Firm we understand that there is a lot to know when it comes to your rights as an employee. We are always available to address your concerns about your employment situation. Whether you feel you are being discriminated against at work or have any other employment-related concerns we would be pleased to assist you when you book a free consultation.

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About Post Author


Rahul founded Soni Law Firm, a boutique employment, labour, and human rights law firm, with the goal of taking his Downtown Toronto litigation experience and making it accessible to Ontario’s Main Street employees and employers.