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Many Canadians Work an Extra
Half Week to Take a Week Off

Company culture, processes and workloads may create a Time off Tax

Toronto, December 20, 2016 - About three-quarters of working Canadians feel they have to put in extra work before and after a one-week vacation, reveals the latest ADP Sentiment Survey. And not just a quick bit of prep or catch-up: according to the survey, Canadians who are likely to do extra work around a vacation end up spending an average of 10 extra hours beforehand plus 11 hours afterwards, for a total of 21 extra hours.

According to the study, before taking a one-week vacation, 75% of working Canadians will likely have to do some extra work ahead of time, with nearly half (44%) saying having to do extra work is “very likely.” Women are more likely than men to have to do extra work (49% vs 40%). After taking a one-week vacation, almost three-quarters of working Canadians (73%) say they will likely have to do extra work to get caught up again.

Perhaps due to the extra effort associated with taking a vacation, some Canadians choose to simply keep working — a recent survey found that, on average, Canadians leave three days of unused vacation time on the table, representing nearly 31-million unused vacation days this year alone1

“Our latest ADP Sentiment Survey provides a good explanation for why many Canadians may be reluctant to take a vacation, and may not feel completely rested when they do,” says Virginia Brailey, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at ADP Canada. “While holidays are important for physical and mental health, our study shows that for many Canadians, the extra work required to take that vacation has become a bit like a Time off Tax.”

What is the true cost of vacation?

However, not all Canadians expect to put in extra time before or after a vacation. In Quebec, workers are least likely to put in extra time before a holiday (53% vs. 82% rest of Canada) and after (53% vs. 79% rest of Canada). In both cases, two-in-ten Quebecers indicate this isn’t likely to happen at all (23% vs. only 5% before and 4% after a holiday than in the rest of Canada).

In contrast, Western Canadians are more likely to say they are putting in extra time before and after a holiday. Almost 90% of workers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta report they are putting in extra time around vacations.

Brailey has three tips for employers to help ensure their workplace isn’t creating a Time off Tax:

  1. Check your culture: Some workplaces breed a culture of overwork, whether it’s a start-up struggling to build their business, or a busy corporate environment where the work never stops. When vacations are viewed as a perk or lack of commitment, employees can feel compelled to “make up for it” on either side of a few days off. Managers should ensure employees take all of their vacation and can set an example by taking their holidays, too.

  2. Plan proactively for time off: It’s important to plan vacations, as much as possible, around quieter times at work and to coordinate with others on the team. “Everyone wants time off in the summer and at the holidays, but most workplaces can’t just shut down,” Brailey notes. “Supervisors have the opportunity to work with their teams early in the year to schedule vacations in a way that doesn’t impact productivity and doesn’t pressure people to take vacation at a time when workloads are particularly heavy.”

  3. Take the pressure off: Managers should make sure they have a realistic view of their employees’ workloads and commitments. “A lot of managers have a blind spot when it comes to schedules and workloads,” Brailey adds. “If you have employees on your team whose work is essential, it’s important to make sure they have a back-up so they can take time off without worrying.” Hiring contractors to cover vacation time or outsourcing some functions are other approaches organizations use to make sure the work gets done while allowing employees to recharge. Solutions such as ADP Workforce Now® can help automate vacation management and provide line-of-sight into resource gaps.

“The health and business benefits of well-rested employees are too important to ignore,” says Brailey. This is a perfect time of year for managers to step back and make sure their employees aren’t feeling pressured to pay a Time off Tax by putting in extra time or, worse yet, not taking vacation at all.”

Survey methodology

A survey of 1554 Canadians was completed online between November 21 and 24, 2016, using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. Of that 1554, 808 respondents could be classified as “working.” A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-3%, 19 times out of 20.

About ADP Canada

ADP Canada gives organizations of every size the tools to help their people thrive. From basic payroll to complex people management systems and analytics, we help business leaders make better decisions. Our clients trust ADP to provide strategic insights and expertise to build and inspire the workforce they need. Visit us at or follow us on Twitter @ADP_CDA.

About ADP

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For more information or to arrange an interview with an ADP spokesperson about the survey:

Eric McLean
Environics Communications

Fahd Pasha
Environics Communications

1 Survey by Northstar Research Partners among 1,006 Canadian adults aged 18 and older who are employed or self-employed, conducted between August 22 and August 31, 2016.

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