More than two years after the pandemic halted travel and Canadians let their vacation days pile up, workers are slowly reprioritizing taking time off.
In 2022, 29 per cent of workers said they used all their vacation time, according to a new survey from ADP Canada. That’s a slight improvement from 2021, when 27 per cent of employees took all their vacation days, but still remains well below 2019 levels of 48 per cent.
“The data from our annual time-off tax survey’ indicates a promising shift in Canadian workers taking back their time to disconnect from work,” Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, said in a press release. “However, it’s important for employers to acknowledge that vacation levels continue to fall below pre-pandemic levels and external factors can impact Canadians’ ability to take time off.”
The survey also said that people are paying less “time-off tax” — the number of extra hours worked before or after taking a one-week vacation — for the second year in a row. According to the survey, 31 per cent of employees did not clock in any extra hours to make up for a week off in 2022.
Workers who did put in additional time invested 20 more hours on average, which is one hour less from 2021 and 14 hours less from 2020, the highest level on record.
Though more workers are taking time off, a majority are choosing a “staycation” over a vacation, with 69 per cent indicating they are not travelling this holiday season.
For many, the country’s current inflation levels are to blame, and 56 per cent of employees said it has played a role in their holiday travel plans.
Canada’s annual inflation rate fell slightly to 6.8 per cent in November from 6.9 per cent in October. But it is still a long way away from the Bank of Canada’s target of two per cent.
“Turning the temperature down on inflation is proving to be an achingly slow process,” Douglas Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, said in a note to clients.
Inflation or no, the slow rebound in people taking vacation days indicates there’s still more that needs to be done around prioritizing downtime from work, ADP said. It’s not only an employee well-being issue. Haslam said workplaces that emphasize employee rest also stand to reap the benefits, which may include a decline in staff turnover along with a boost in productivity.
“Organizations that can help workers prioritize healthy work-life habits may contribute to increasing engagement and employee retention levels,” she said.
“2023 marks an opportunity for employers to equip employees for wellness by encouraging workers to recharge and disconnect — promoting engagement and productivity.”
The survey interviewed 811 Canadian workers.
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