Does Going on Leave Affect an Employee’s Vacation Entitlements?

By Tiffany Zanatta.

When an employee goes on leave from work, does their vacation still accrue? Before answering that, let’s clarify what we mean by “leave”.

Under the British Columbia Employment Standards Act (the Act), employers are required to grant employees the following types of unpaid leave:

  • Pregnancy leave
  • Parental leave (for birth or adopting parents)
  • Family responsibility leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Compassionate care leave
  • Jury duty
  • Reservist leave

If you are on any of these forms of leave from your employment, your vacation continues to accrue as if you were working (see section 56(1) of the Act).

The next question that naturally arises is: does it accrue on the same basis while you’re away? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. If your vacation pay is based on weeks of “paid vacation”, your entitlement will remain the same while you are on leave.
  2. However, if your vacation is based on a percentage of earnings, your vacation entitlement will reflect your reduced earnings based on the actual earnings of that year.
  3. Finally, if your employer has agreed to grant vacation pay greater than the minimums set out in the Act, they cannot reduce this because you are on leave.

One last note on vacation accrual during leave: these provisions on leave, like many other provisions of the Act, do not apply to employees who are specifically excluded from the Act. To find out more about such exclusions, read our recent blog posts:

Feeling left out? You’re not alone! Exclusions under the BC Employment Standards Act (Part 1)

Feeling left out? You’re not alone! Exclusions under the BC Employment Standards Act (Part 2)


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