More Canadian Workers Embrace Flexible Vacation Time

October 23, 2002 ( - Given a choice between time off from work or money in their pocket, an increasing number of Canadian workers are opting for the latter by selling vacation time back to their employer, a survey found.

According to the Hewitt Associates study, a fifth of the 136 Canadian firms who responded allow workers to sell vacation time while a third permit employees to buy extra days off, according to a Financial Times news report.

A growing number of employees demand vacation time be part of their flexible benefits program, Hewitt benefits consultant Cathy O’Bright told the Financial Times.

“It’s typically ranked at or near the top of the list of benefit changes employees would like to see in the flexible benefits approach,” she said.

One week of vacation translates into about 2% of total annual pay. “That can be fairly rich,” O’Bright told the newspaper.

By subtracting or adding vacation pay, neither employee nor employer adds to their costs.

It can be particularly useful for a dual-income family in which each earner has an individual benefits program. Such a family does not need two dental plans and one partner can opt for more vacation time, the Financial Times report said.

What it comes down to is the different needs of different employees, O’Bright told the newspaper. “Younger employees would have less vacation entitlement and would choose to buy more, while older employees, with more vacation time, may actually choose to sell.”

Most companies allow the sale of only one week of vacation, the Financial Times said.