In the pursuit of top talent, employers are becoming more flexible when it comes to employee time off, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.

Its survey of more than 370 organizations found that the majority (62 per cent) provide floater or flex days, almost double the percentage that did so in 2009.

“More than ever before, Canadians are focusing on competitive benefits and work-life balance when choosing an employer,” said Allison Cowan, director of leadership and human resources research at the Conference Board of Canada. “Employers who tailor their paid and unpaid leaves to employees’ needs will have a significant competitive advantage.”

Read: Will 18-month parental leave reduce pressures on working families?

According to the report, many organizations offer family days, elder-care leave, scheduled holiday office closures and volunteer or community service days. But, taking it up a notch, some employers are being strategic in retaining staff, specifically new parents. The report notes that some companies extend time off during parental leave and give additional pay to enhance the employment insurance benefits that employees receive during maternity, parental and adoption leaves.

While this represents an added cost for employers, the Conference Board of Canada notes that employees with these added benefits are more likely to return to work for the same employer than those without them. Additionally, it found that more than two-thirds of organizations recognize past service when determining vacation entitlements for incoming employees.

Read: Employers and employees disagree on right to request flexible working

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Average vacation entitlements range from 2.7 weeks to four weeks and vary by employee group;
  • Public sector employees tend to have higher average vacation entitlements overall than private sector employees;
  • Floater or flex days are the most frequently offered paid leave that is not legally required in Canada; and
  • Although maternity, parental and adoption leaves are legislated in all jurisdictions, many organizations choose to top up the government’s requirements, with 26 per cent of organizations offering paid top up for the duration of an employee’s maternity leave.

Read: The hidden costs of unlimited vacation policies

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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