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December 04, 2021

Canadians come up short on vacation time: report

The holiday season is coming, but you can probably count on one hand the people you know who’ll be taking more than a few days off this Christmas.

The number would be much higher if you had friends from, say, Japan though. There workers enjoy 44 days paid vacation each year, the most generous entitlement out of all the countries surveyed by human resource consulting firm Mercer.

At 31 days a year, Canada is bringing up the rear, ahead of only Australia at 30 days, and the United States at 28, the Globe and Mail reports.

Mercer’s calculations assume an employee working five days a week, with 10 years of service and don’t factor in personal days or sick leave.

But the picture gets even worse if you simply look at statutory holidays. Employees in Canada are among those with the lowest entitlement with only 10 days, Mercer notes. While there’s no statutory minimum in the US, employees typically receive 15 days a year.

Members of the European Union, by contrast, must provide workers with a minimum of 20 paid vacation days a year plus public holidays.

Of course, besides getting less time off than workers in many other countries, too many of us don’t use all the time we do get, opting instead for either staying at the office or adopting the bent-headed wireless slouch of the continuously connected.

According to a recent Expedia survey, nearly 25 per cent of Canadians aren’t taking the full number of vacation days they've been allotted. This translates into 34 million missed days in Canada overall and roughly $6 billion in wages handed back to employers.

A few of the main reasons why we’re missing out include: trading days in for money (12%); not making plans far enough in advance (11%); and/or simply being too busy at work (11%).

How do you fare in the not-taking-that-vacation sweeps?

By Gordon Powers. MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...