Employers increasingly more flexible when it comes to employee time off

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Today’s workforce is made up of a diverse group of Canadians from multiple generations and life stages. With this in mind, employers are offering a range of paid and unpaid leaves to acknowledge the varied priorities of today’s workers. Many organizations are choosing to top-up parental leaves with additional time off or provide additional vacation and flex time in order to attract talent, according to a new Conference Board of Canadareport.

“More than ever before, Canadians are focusing on competitive benefits and work-life balance when choosing an employer,” saidAllison Cowan, Director, Leadership and Human Resources Research, The Conference Board ofCanada.

“While the desire for work-life balance has traditionally been attributed to Generation X, Millennials are also prioritizing a well-rounded total rewards package, which includes a competitive salary, benefits and vacation packages, and flexible work hours to allow for time with friends and family. Employers who tailor their paid and unpaid leaves to employees’ needs will have a significant competitive advantage.”


  • Average base vacation entitlements range from 2.7 weeks to 4 weeks, and vary by employee group.
  • Public sector employees tend to have higher average vacation entitlements overall than private sector employees.
  • Floater or flex days are the most frequently offered paid leave that is not legally required in Canada.
  • Although maternity, parental, and adoption leaves are legislated in all jurisdictions, many organizations choose to top up the government’s requirements. Just over one-quarter of organizations (26 per cent) offer paid top-up for the duration of a mother’s maternity leave.

Based on a survey of 370 organizations, the report, Out of Office: Paid and Unpaid Leaves in Canadian Organizations, examines the importance of employer leaves in attracting and retaining top talent. The majority of organizations surveyed (62 per cent) said they provide employees with floater or flex days. This is almost a two-fold increase since 2009, indicating a move toward more flexible scheduling in Canadian workplaces. Many organizations also offer family days, eldercare leave, scheduled holiday office closures, and volunteer or community service days.

Another strategy used by employers to drive employment retention is additional time off or pay beyond what is provided by Employment Insurance benefits for maternity, parental, and adoption leaves. While this represents an added cost for employers, employees with these types of added benefits tend to return to work for the same employer in a higher proportion than their counterparts who do not have such benefits.

In addition, more than two-thirds of organizations recognize past service when determining vacation entitlements for incoming employees—whether on a formal or case-by-case basis. When determining vacation allotments for mid-career hires, organizations use a variety of different practices and policies to acknowledge past service. The most common practice involves providing the same vacation entitlement that a current employee at the same level of experience or service would receive.

The report, Out of Office: Paid and Unpaid Leaves in Canadian Organizations, is available from the Conference Board’s e–Library.

A companion report released in June, Addressing Employee Absences: A Look at Absence Management in Canadian Organizations, examines illness and injury related leaves including sick leave, short-term disability, and long term disability leave.

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SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

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