Canada Leave Laws

In this page, we’ll break down all you need to know about leave laws in Canada.

Read on to learn about employees’ rights in regards to paid time off/annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, national/public holidays, and more.

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.


Employees in Canada are entitled to two weeks’ vacation time per year after one year of employment.

After five years of employment, this rises to three weeks per year, and four weeks per year after ten years of employment.

Some provinces have slightly different rates, but all have a minimum of two weeks’ PTO after one year of employment.

Employees in Saskatchewan are entitled to three weeks’ PTO after one year of employment.

Vacation Pay

PTO is paid out at a rate of the employee’s gross earnings for that year. The rate is roughly similar to the amount of vacation time, rising at the same intervals:

PTO Payout & Use It or Lose It

Use It or Lose It policies are illegal in Canada. Employees cannot lose their earned PTO if they do not use it by a certain date – with a caveat.

Employees can be required to take their vacation time within the year it’s provided. However, if the employee doesn’t take all their vacation time for that year, they are still entitled to their vacation pay (their PTO days may expire, but they will be paid out their accrued PTO).

Any unused vacation pay must also be paid out upon separation of employment, with one exception being in British Columbia, where employees are not entitled to payout of vacation time if terminated within five days of being hired.

Sick Leave in Canada

Employees in Canada are entitled to up to 27 weeks of medical leave per year for:

Of these 27 weeks, employees are entitled to 10 days of medical leave with pay, for the above reasons.

Employees are eligible for three days of paid medical leave after working for their employer for 30 days. After this time, employees earn one additional day of paid medical leave per month, up to a maximum of 10 days.

Unused medical leave can carry over from one day to the next, but only up to a maximum of 10 days.

Different provinces may have their own entitlements in regards to sick leave, alongside the federal minimum.

Employees may also be entitled to up to 15 weeks of financial assistance via national Employment Insurance if forced off work due to medical reasons.

Personal Leave

Employees in Canada are entitled to five days of personal leave per calendar year.

This covers the following situations:

The first three days of this personal leave will be paid, if the employee has completed at least three months of employment.

Canada Public Holidays

Canada has the following Federal Statutory Holidays:

January 1New Year’s Day
2 days before EasterGood Friday (Friday before Easter)
Monday preceding May 25thVictoria Day
July 1Canada Day
First Monday of SeptemberLabor Day
September 30National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Second Monday of OctoberThanksgiving Day
November 11Remembrance Day
December 25Christmas Day
December 26Boxing Day

Alongside these ten holidays, each province has their own statutory holidays.

Holiday Pay

For statutory public holidays, employees are entitled to a day off plus their regular pay. If required to work on a public holiday, the employee is entitled to a day off in lieu, or a premium rate of pay for that day.

For the following days, if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday and that day is not a working day for the employee, they are entitled to a paid holiday on the working day before or after the holidays.

Parental Leave in Canada (Maternity Leave & Paternity Leave)

Maternity Leave

Employees in Canada are entitled to up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. This can be taken beginning 13 weeks before the expected date of birth, through to 17 weeks after the birth date.

Maternity leave is not required to be paid by the employer, but employees may be eligible for compensation via federal Employment Insurance.

Parental Leave

Natural or adoptive parents are eligible for up top 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave, which can be taken any time within 78 weeks of the child’s birth, or the date the child came into your care.

Employees can apply for compensation via Employment Insurance.

Bereavement Leave in Canada

Employees in Canada are entitled to up to 10 days of bereavement leave for the death of an immediate family member. This can be taken starting the day of the death, up until six weeks after the date of the funeral, burial or memorial service.

If the employee has worked at least three months for their employer, the first three days of bereavement leave is paid by the employer.

Other Leave Types

Jury Duty Leave

Employees are entitled to unpaid leave to attend jury duty, or to serve as a witness in court proceedings.

Voting Leave

Employees are entitled to three hours of paid voting leave, if their working hours don’t allow them time to vote outside of their working time.

Military Leave

Employees are entitled to up to 24 months of unpaid, job-protected leave for military operations in Canada or abroad, military training for the Canadian Armed Forces, and training or activities under the National Defence Act.

Leave for Victims of Family Violence

Employees are entitled to up to 10 days of leave within a calendar year if they are a victim of family violence, or the parent of a child who has been the victim of family violence.

If the employee has been working for their employer for at least three months, the first five days of this leave is paid.

Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices

Aboriginal employees (Indian, Inuit or Métis) are entitled to five days per year of unpaid leave for traditional traditional Aboriginal practices, such as:

Official Resources

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