Take your vacation and don’t apologize to anyone

For anyone planning to spend the last days of this glorious summer on vacation: whatever you do, don’t apologize. Neither to your colleagues, nor to your boss, nor to anyone who might be affected by your absence.

When we ask forgiveness for using up our earned vacation time, it reinforces the message that work is paramount — more important than rest, family time, or anything else we might enjoy. An overwork expectation is detrimental to morale, productivity, provides a fast track to burnout and increases employee turnover. Well over two years into this global pandemic and much-publicized job turnover, it must be recognized that burnout and a busy schedule are poor markers of success.

Taking a vacation is one small step towards that elusive dream of work-life balance. But when it comes to paid time off, Canadian regulatory minimums are stingy – not the worst, but not great either. Unions, community organizations, academics and others have been calling for more time off for decades, and with good reason.

Currently, workers in Ontario are entitled to two weeks of paid vacation after one year of continuous employment and three weeks after five years. While some workers may be granted more time off by their employer or unions may successfully negotiate it, the floor is low. There are also nine recognized statutory holidays in Ontario, compared to 10 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and the Yukon, 11 in the Northwest Territories, 12 in Newfoundland and Labrador and only eight in Quebec, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and a measly six. in Nova Scotia.

For Ontario workers, this means a minimum of 19 to 24 days of paid leave per year, for full-time employees. For part-time employees, the work stoppage is calculated by an average of the number of days worked during the last 12 months, which can lead to very little rest time, in particular for those who combine several part-time jobs. partiel.

Compare that to the other 37 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In France, workers benefit from a minimum of five weeks of vacation, in addition to 11 public holidays. Some workers take up to six to ten weeks off, depending on their job. Like France, Finland has a GDP per capita similar to that of Canada, but has a legal minimum of 30 days of paid vacation, plus 12 public holidays. Moving east, South Korean workers have 15 vacation days after one year of employment, with an additional day every two years thereafter, plus 11 public holidays.

Governments have been too cowardly to do it brilliantly, but employers should. At a time when companies are striving to retain qualified and loyal staff, it is worth questioning long-held assumptions about working hours, vacation entitlements and welfare. For organizations that are serious about tackling employee turnover, start with more generous time off and time off.

Shannon Devine is a longtime activist and advocate for fairness and workers’ rights. She works for the United Steelworkers union in Toronto.

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