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More Than Half of Working Canadians Suffering from the “Time Off Tax”

More Than Half of Working Canadians Suffering from the “Time Off Tax”

Canadians working three extra days to make up for taking one-week vacation; nearly half would switch jobs for more vacation time: ADP Canada study

TORONTO, December 19, 2018 - If you’ve booked time off this holiday season, chances are you’re making plans for a few late nights at the office before and after your vacation.

According to the results of the most recent ADP Canada Sentiment Survey, more than three-in-five working Canadians say they put in extra time before (63%) and after (64%) their vacation to make up for being away from the office. While that represents a nearly ten per cent decrease in the total number of individuals putting in that extra time, these same employees say they’ll now be putting in more of those added hours than what they did a year ago.

In total, working Canadians say they are expecting to pay a “Time Off Tax” of about 23 hours total – or nearly three full eight-hour workdays – in extra preparation and catch-up time worked before and/or after a week of holidays. That’s more than double the expectation from last year (11.4 hours), and slightly above 2016’s survey results (21 hours). Younger workers – those between the ages of 18-34 – seem to bear the burden the most, saying they expect to work an additional 32.1 hours before and after a one-week vacation.

“It appears that the Time Off Tax is alive and well across Canada. While its encouraging to see fewer working Canadians feeling the need to put in those extra hours, to make up for their time away, it’s concerning to see that for many, vacation time can be as much a curse as it is a blessing,” said Hendrik Steenkamp, Director, HR Advisory at ADP Canada. “Employees should not be penalized with late nights and early mornings for taking their earned vacation. It’s the responsibility of managers to ensure their teams are able to make the best use of their downtime, which means not only providing coverage for when they’re away, but additional workload support before and after their holidays.”

Use it or Lose It
Time away from work has been shown to increase productivity and employee satisfaction, helping them to recharge and remain engaged when they are on site – which has a noteworthy impact on their performance, along with their contribution to a positive corporate culture.

While more than half (53.8%) of those polled said they are entitled to four weeks of vacation or less this year, only 48.5% of respondents indicated they will use all off their allotted vacation time during an average year – with five per cent admitting they most commonly take none.

Better Vacation Equals Better Retention
Almost half (47.3%) of working Canadians say they would switch employers for an increase in vacation time, even if all other considerations remained the same.

In fact, three-in-five (60.6%) workers between 18-34, and more than half (52.6%) of workers between 35-44 – the two most coveted and challenging to recruit age groups - agreed that increased vacation time alone could convince them to leave their current employer.

The Disconnection Dilemma
With so much extra time dedicated before and after vacation, disconnecting during those days off should be easy – but Canadians say they have a difficult time leaving their work at the office.

Nearly half (44.6%) say they will check work email or reach out to the office while they are on vacation, with an additional 13.8 per cent at the ready to jump in should an issue arise. Younger workers (18-34) were the most likely to keep a close eye on their in-box, with more than half (56.5%) saying they always check in, and 47% admitting they check in multiple times.

“The calendar change represents the perfect opportunity for both employees and managers to recommit making the most of their valuable time off,” added Steenkamp. “Organizations can look to update vacation policies, like adopting unlimited or flex vacation, and give managers the tools they need to help make it easier for their staff to get away, without paying for it elsewhere. Fostering a culture that proactively supports its employees’ wellbeing not only helps to increase on-the-job productivity and engagement, but to improve retention and help keep top talent.”

Other highlights of the ADP Canada Time Off Tax Sentiment Study:

  • Workers in Quebec seem less affected by the Time Off Tax than those in other markets. Roughly 41 per cent say they work extra time before or after a vacation (20% below the national average), and when they do, they spend an average of only 17.2 hours of extra work. Quebecers are also the least likely to leave their job for more vacation time, with only 33.8 per cent saying they would do so.
  • While workers in BC are the most likely to put in extra time before vacation (72.7%), they also work the least amount of extra overall hours (13.8 hours) before or after a one-week vacation.
  • Women (6.6%) are nearly twice as likely as men (3.4%) to say they take none of their allotted vacation time during the year – but when they do, they are substantially more likely (46%) to completely disconnect and not check in with work than their male counterparts (32.8%).
  • Men also say they work substantially more extra hours (27 hours) than women (19.3 hours) before and after a vacation.
  • Workers in Atlantic Canada work the most overall extra hours (31.5), followed closely by Ontario (27.7). Additionally, nearly one-in-ten workers in Atlantic Canada say they take no vacation time in an average year – double the national average.
  • Seven per cent of Canadians polled say they have unlimited vacation time each year, with workers in the Prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan – 10.6%) and BC (10.3%) being most likely to say they have this option.

Survey methodology

An online survey of 1562 Canadians was completed between November 16 to 19, 2018, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Please note that throughout the report, only those who work full-time, part-time or are self employed / freelance (872 Canadians) are reported.

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 .

For more information:

Erin Griffin
Kaiser Lachance Communications
647-725-2520 ex. 221

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