Can employees waive their vacation entitlement rights?

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Ever encounter a situation where an employee wanted to be paid out their vacation time instead of taking the time off?  Did you know that in some provinces, legislation doesn't allow employees to waive their vacation time, even if they provide it to the employer in writing.

Waiver of Vacation Time.

Employees who are entitled to vacation time under employment labour standards may or may not be entitled to waive their rights, depending upon the jurisdiction.

Canada Labour Code - can be waived providing the employer and the employee sign an agreement for a specific year. A new agreement must be signed each year. If the waiver is agreed to, the employee’s entitlement is carried over into the following year.

British Columbia - Rights cannot be waived by either the employer or the employee.

Alberta - requires employers to provide vacation time and employees to take the vacation. There are no provisions for postponement or waiver.

Saskatchewan - a written agreement can be signed if there is a labour shortage, and the agreement must be filed with the director of labour standards. When the vacation is not taken, the employer must pay out vacation pay.

Manitoba - Rights cannot be waived by either party.

Ontario - can be waived by the employee with a written agreement from the employer and approved by the Employment Standards Director. Vacation pay must still be paid.
Quebec - cannot be waived unless there is a special provision in a collective agreement or a decree allows for it. Where an employee is entitled to a third week, an employee may request to receive pay in lieu of time (called a compensatory indemnity) but only if the business closes for 2 weeks.

New Brunswick - Rights cannot be waived

Nova Scotia - full time employees cannot waive their rights. Employees who work less than 90% of regular working hours on a continuous basis for a 12 month period may waive their entitlement.

Prince Edward Island - Rights cannot be waived.

Newfoundland and Labrador - topic not covered in Labour Standards.

Yukon - can be waived if agreed to in writing.

Northwest Territories - an application can be made to the Director of Labour Standards to waive vacation entitlement in a specific year due to exceptional circumstances.

Nunavut -  an application can be made to the Director of Labour Standards to waive vacation entitlement in a specific year due to unusual circumstances
Natasha Smyth  B.Sc. (Agr.), CPM
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