All of this means that many workers do not take their vacation, which can lead to multiple problems for employers and employees. It has been recognized that vacations allow workers to recharge their batteries and take a break, which contributes to more productivity and engagement – engaged employees are more likely to stay, while greater burnout will increase turnover. .
Time off also contributes to physical and mental health, meaning workers are less likely to get sick – sick employees are more absent and less productive, which can hurt an employer’s bottom line.
Legal considerations around vacations
There is also legal liability to consider. All jurisdictions in Canada have a minimum vacation entitlement for employees – at least two weeks for employees with at least one year of service, with an increase to three weeks after a specified period, typically five years. Saskatchewan requires employers to provide three weeks vacation to employees with one year of service.
But if someone is checking and emailing or doing other work-related tasks, is it really vacation time? Depending on the amount of work performed, a legal challenge could lead to a determination that the vacation was not provided and that the employee was simply working remotely. At the very least, there could be enough to qualify for overtime payment.
Remote working has always had its potential overtime pitfalls. Employees who tend to ignore the boundaries between working hours and rest hours while working from home may also tend to do the same when they take time off. Employers need to be careful that this doesn’t happen too much, especially if workloads and schedules are set in a way that makes it more difficult or stressful for employees to take vacations.