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Time Off

Employees are entitled to time off work in certain circumstances. Some time-off is with pay and other time-off is not. There are also other conditions that need to be met for most leaves.


You are entitled to at least 3 weeks paid vacation every year, after you have worked for your employer for at least 1 year. If you work for the same employer for 10 years, you are entitled to at least 4 weeks paid vacation a year.

Your employer must allow you to take all your vacation at one time, if that is what you want to do. You can ask to break it up into shorter periods.

Your vacation time should be decided between you and your employer. Your employer must let you take your vacation within a year of earning it. If you and your employer cannot agree or you do not schedule any vacation time, your employer can schedule your vacation. You must be told at least 4 weeks in advance when your vacation will start.

If you do not take the vacation you are entitled to you will get vacation pay instead. For example, if you are entitled to 3 weeks of vacation and you do not take it, you will get 3 extra weeks of pay that year.

Public Holidays

In Saskatchewan there are 10 public holidays a year...

  • New Year’s Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Saskatchewan Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Christmas Day

If the holiday falls on a Sunday and the workplace is not normally open on Sunday, the following Monday will be considered the public holiday for that workplace. In a week that has a public holiday, overtime pay is required if an employee works more than 32 hours during the normal working days for that week.

If you do work on a public holiday you get premium pay. You get your regular amount of pay plus 1.5 times your hourly wage for every hour worked. Otherwise you generally get the day off with pay.

There are different rules for full-time workers in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, hotels and restaurants. If these employees work on a public holiday they will be paid 1.5 premium pay for any hours they work and receive either holiday pay or another day off. There are also different rules for some industries, such as well-drilling and hog farming.

Unpaid Leaves from Work

You may have to be away from work for a number of reasons including if...

  • you are sick or injured or a dependent family member is seriously ill or injured
  • a family member has passed away
  • your child is very sick
  • a family member is critically ill
  • there is a new baby in the family
  • a family member is very ill and could die
  • your child dies or is missing because of a crime-related incident
  • you are an organ donor
  • you are a new Canadian and you are attending your citizenship ceremony
  • you are running for or elected to a public office, including a band council
  • you are in the army reserves and are called to active duty

Employers do not have to pay you when you are away for these reasons but they cannot fire you for not being at work. However, in most cases, you must have worked for your employer for at least 13 weeks before you can take these leaves and know that your job will be there when you get back. In the case of sick leave you do not have to have worked for your employer for 13 weeks. In the case of longer leaves employers may only be obligated to give you a comparable job. In these cases you are entitled to the same wage and benefits as you had before you went on leave.

Covid-19 & Public Health Emergency Leave

You are entitled to unpaid leave if you have been directed to isolate by…

  • your employer
  • the government
  • your doctor, or
  • the chief medical health officer

You are entitled to this leave for the duration of your isolation. You may also be eligible for this unpaid leave if you are required to stay home to care for children or other family members.

You are not required to provide notice to your employer, but open communication can benefit both you and your employer. Unlike other leaves, you do not need to have worked for your employer for a designated number of weeks.

See additional information regarding the public health emergency leave from the Government of Saskatchewan.

Special Vaccination Leave

Special Vaccination Leave is similar to provisions allowing residents to vote during a general election. The special vaccination leave requires that during the pandemic:

  • Workers are entitled to three consecutive hours leave during work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Workers are entitled to more than three consecutive hours if the employer determines the circumstances warrant a longer break from work.
  • Workers do not lose any pay or other benefits while taking time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Length of Unpaid Leaves

For every kind of leave there are a maximum number of days that can be taken.

  • You can be away from work up to 12 days a year because you are sick or injured. If you are seriously ill or injured you can be away up to 12 weeks. If you are receiving workers’ compensation for an injury you can be away up to 26 weeks. You do not have to be paid for these days but you cannot be fired for taking them. Some employers may pay employees for sick days
  • Pregnant women and an adoptive parent who will be the primary caregiver can take up to 19 weeks of unpaid maternity/adoption leave and up to 59 weeks of unpaid parental leave. The other parent can have up to 71 weeks of unpaid parental leave.
  • If an immediate family member dies you can take up to 5 working days off unpaid.
  • If your child is critically ill or injured you can take up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to look after them.
  • If an adult family member is critically ill you can take up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave to look after them.
  • You can take up to 28 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a very sick family member who may die.
  • You can take up to a year off if your child dies or is missing because of crime-related incident.
  • You can take the day of your citizenship ceremony off.

If you are on leave because you are called to activity duty in the army you can take as many days as you required to be on active duty. If you take a leave to run for public office or because you are elected you can take as many days as needed.

There are a number of other rules that apply to leaves. Notice must be given before some types of leaves can be taken. Generally 4 weeks’ written notice is required for leaves of more than 60 days except for leaves that cannot be anticipated such as bereavement or compassionate care leave. There are also rules about who is considered a family member.

It is against employment standards to end someone’s employment because they have applied for or taken an authorized leave. Employers also cannot let someone go because they are pregnant or disabled because of pregnancy. Workers who are disabled, including those temporarily disabled by pregnancy, cannot be fired for asking for modifications or changes to their duties because of their disability.

Employment Insurance

For some unpaid leaves you may be eligible for Employment Insurance.

Workers who are away from work because of illness or injury may be entitled to the sickness benefit.

Parents who take maternity, adoption or parental leave are eligible for maternal and parental benefits. Maternity leave benefits covering 55% of the mother’s salary are paid for a maximum of 15 weeks. Parental leave benefits are paid for a maximum of 40 weeks at 55% of the parent’s salary but one parent can only take 35 of these weeks. Parents can choose to take up to 69 weeks and be paid at 33% of their salary. One parent can only take 61 of these weeks.

A family member who is caring for a critically ill or injured child is eligible for the family caregiver benefit. Depending on the person’s wages they could receive up to $562 for a limited number of weeks.

A family member who takes leave to care for a gravely ill family member who has a significant risk of dying is eligible for compassionate care benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks.

Interpersonal Violence Leave

If you, your child or someone that you are a caregiver for (even if you do not live together) have experienced interpersonal violence you are entitled to up to 10 days of leave in a year. You can take these days as one block or break them up over the year. Five of these days are with pay. You must have worked for your employer for at least 13 weeks to take this type of leave.

You are entitled to this leave if you have experienced sexual violence or the person who was violent towards you is...

  • part of your family
  • your spouse
  • in an intimate relationship with you
  • someone you are dating
  • a parent of your child
  • in an ongoing care-giving relationship with you

Employers must keep any information disclosed to them by an employee who is taking interpersonal violence leave confidential.

You can use this leave to...

  • seek medical attention needed because of the interpersonal violence
  • obtain services from a victim services agency
  • go for professional counselling
  • seek legal or law enforcement assistance including participating in a criminal or civil legal proceeding concerning the interpersonal violence
  • relocate temporarily or permanently

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.