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Vacation Pay and Time

Expert: Mario Cywinski

Cory asked:

I have been employed with the same company in Toronto, for over 24 years. Since 2002 I have accrued over 80 days of unused vacation time. I am a very "in-demand" employee and it is unrealistic for me to use this accrued vacation time.My employer reminds me each year to try to take my vacation time, but never forces the issue as my project schedule is always full the company would lose business if I wasn't there. I get 5 weeks of new vacation time each year.

Is my employer thus obligated to pay out my unused vacation time? Must he pay it out as a lump sum or does he have the option to pay it out over a specified period of time? Is there a limit as to how long the specified period of time can be to pay out overdue vacation pay?

Mario Cywinski answered:

Last summer, with many employees thinking of taking vacation and being paid for it, we did an in-depth article on the ins and outs of vacation time and pay.

It can be viewed here:

We found that in the province of Ontario, you may be able to be given vacation pay without having to take your vacation time. However, this must be okay by the director of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) as well as your employer. Unfortunately, according to the ESA, you have a limit as to how much time can elapse before you take your vacation pay. This is an excerpt from the Ministry of labour's website:

"The vacation time earned with respect to a completed vacation entitlement year or a stub period must be taken within 10 months following the completion of the vacation entitlement year or stub period. The employer has the right to schedule vacation as well as an obligation to ensure the vacation time is scheduled and taken before the end of that ten-month period."

The best course of action in your case would be to contact your local ESA branch and see if you can still collect unused vacation pay. Here is the ESA contacts website link:

About the author

Mario Cywinski was the Assistant Editor of and a graduate of Humber College's Journalism Program. Mario is currently the Managing Editor for Canadian Automotive Fleet and Fleet Vans and Trucks magazines, and is a member of AJAC. He has also worked for Trajan Publishing Corporation as a copy editor, and interned at ABC News, OMNI Television and Global TV.

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