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Vacation pay

Most employees get vacation pay. Usually it is paid when you take your vacation. But, if you and your employer agree in writing, it could be added to your regular paycheque, or it could be paid at any other time you and your employer agree on in writing.

Full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal, term contract employees and student employees are eligible. However, there are job-specific exemptions to the vacation with pay part of the ESA that mean certain employees are not eligible. (Check out Is my job covered? for details about job-specific exemptions to the vacation with pay rules.)


Table of Contents
  1. What is vacation with pay?
  2. How is vacation pay calculated?
  3. What if I don't work for my employer for a full vacation entitlement year or a stub period?
  4. When should I be paid vacation pay?
  5. What records must my employer keep and how do I get information about my vacation pay?
  6. What happens if my job ends before I take vacation?
  7. How do public holidays affect vacations and vacation pay?
  8. Do employers have to provide vacation pay when there's a strike?
  9. What if I don't want to take my vacation?
  10. What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?
  11. Can I see the ESA?

What is vacation with pay? Top

This employment standard has two parts: vacation time and vacation pay.

Employees are entitled to two weeks of vacation time after each 12-month vacation entitlement year. Where the employer has established an alternative vacation entitlement year (an alternative vacation entitlement year is one that does not start on the first day of employment and thereafter the anniversary date of the first day), the employee is entitled to a pro-rated amount of vacation time for the period (stub period) before the alternative vacation entitlement year starts. See Vacation time for more details about the entitlement to vacation time off.

Vacation pay must be at least four per cent of the "gross" wages earned in the 12-month vacation entitlement year or in the stub period (where that applies).

Note: If an employee's contract or collective agreement provides a better vacation benefit than the minimum required, the employee may be entitled to a higher percentage of his or her gross earnings for vacation pay. For example, an employee might be entitled to three weeks' vacation per year, with six per cent of gross earnings for vacation pay.

How is vacation pay calculated? Top

Vacation pay is calculated as a minimum of four per cent of the wages (excluding vacation pay) the employee earned in the vacation entitlement year or stub period for which the vacation is being given.

Wages include:

  • regular wages
  • commissions
  • bonuses and monetary gifts that are not discretionary or that are related to hours, production or efficiency
  • overtime pay
  • public holiday pay
  • allowances for room or board
  • termination pay

They do not include:

  • vacation pay (although the definition of wages in the ESA includes vacation pay, it is not included in this calculation)
  • tips and gratuities
  • discretionary bonuses and monetary gifts that are not related to hours, production or efficiency (such as Christmas bonuses unrelated to performance)
  • expenses and travelling allowances
  • generally, contributions made by an employer to a benefit plan
  • payments from a benefit plan that an employee is entitled to
  • severance pay (although the definition of wages in the ESA includes severance pay, it is not included in this calculation)
What if I don't work for my employer for a full vacation entitlement year or a stub period? Top

If you don't complete either the stub period (if any) or the full vacation entitlement year, you don't qualify for vacation time under the Act.

However, you earn vacation pay as you earn wages. So even if you don't complete a stub period (if any) or vacation entitlement year, you are still entitled to at least four per cent of the wages you earned as vacation pay.

When should I be paid vacation pay? Top

Generally, you must receive your vacation pay in a lump sum before taking a vacation. There are four exceptions:

  1. If the employer pays the employee his or her wages by direct deposit into an employee's account at a financial institution, the vacation pay may be paid on or before the pay day for the pay period in which the vacation falls.

    An example: John is taking vacation from September 9 - 16. His normal pay day that covers this period is September 21. John must be given his vacation pay on or before September 21.

  2. When the vacation time is being taken in periods of less than one week, the vacation pay may be paid on or before the pay day for the period in which the vacation falls.

    A typical case: Alvaro is taking vacation on January 2 and January 3, and the normal pay day that covers this period is January 30. Alvaro must be given his vacation pay on or before January 30.

  3. When the employee has agreed in writing that his or her vacation pay will be paid on each paycheque as it is earned, the vacation pay earned in each pay period may be paid on the pay day for that pay period.

  4. If the employee agrees in writing, the employer can pay the vacation pay at any time agreed to by the employee.

What records must my employer keep and how do I get information about my vacation pay? Top

Employers are required to keep records of the vacation time earned since the date of hire but not taken before the start of the vacation entitlement year, the vacation time earned and the vacation time taken (if any) during the vacation entitlement year (or stub period), and the balance of vacation time remaining at the end of the vacation entitlement year (or stub period).

Your employer must also keep records of the vacation pay paid to you during the vacation entitlement year (and stub period, if any) and how that vacation pay was calculated.

These records must be made no later than:

  • seven days after the vacation entitlement year or stub period ends, or
  • the first pay day after the vacation entitlement year or stub period ends,

whichever is later.

You can request (in writing) a statement containing the information in the employer's vacation records. Generally, the employer is required to provide the information no later than:

  • seven days after the request, or
  • the first pay day after you make the request,

whichever is later.

However, if you ask for information concerning the current vacation entitlement year or stub period, the employer is only required to provide the information no later than:

  • seven days after the vacation entitlement year or stub period ends, or
  • the first pay day after the vacation entitlement year or stub period ends,

whichever is later.

Your employer is required to provide the information with respect to each vacation entitlement year or stub period only once.

If you and your employer have agreed that vacation pay will be paid on each paycheque as it is earned, the employer does not need to keep records and provide statements about vacation pay as discussed above. Instead, the employer must report the vacation pay that is being paid separately from the amount of other wages on each wage statement, or provide a separate statement setting out the vacation pay that is being paid at the same time as the wage statement is provided. The employer must also keep a record of that information.

What happens if my job ends before I take vacation? Top

First, your employer must calculate the vacation pay owing (four per cent of wages (excluding vacation pay and severance pay) for the time you were employed, minus any vacation pay already paid). Then, that amount must be paid no later than seven days after your employment ends or on the day that would have been your next pay day, whichever is later.

How do public holidays affect vacations and vacation pay? Top

A public holiday could fall during your vacation. If you qualify for a public holiday, you keep the right to the public holiday and the day remains a vacation day.

You would be entitled to one of the following:

a substitute day off work with public holiday pay, taken within three months of the public holiday or, if you and your employer agree in writing, within 12 months of the public holiday (See Public holidays for more information about substitute days off.)

or

if you and the employer agree in writing, the employer can pay public holiday pay for the public holiday without giving the employee a substitute day off work.

You could also agree, in writing, to work on a public holiday that falls while you are on vacation. For more details, refer to Public holidays.

Do employers have to provide vacation pay when there's a strike? Top

If your employer has scheduled your vacation, and then you go on strike or are locked out during that time, your employer must still provide vacation pay for the scheduled vacation time.

What if I don't want to take my vacation? Top

If you and your employer agree, in writing, and the Director of Employment Standards approves the agreement, you can give up any of the vacation time you've earned. However, the employer is still obligated to pay you any vacation pay earned with respect to that vacation time.

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA? Top

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?

Can I see the ESA? Top

Employment Standards Act, 2000



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