Will this summer be prime vacation time for Canadians? While travel restrictions and social distancing protocols are still in effect, many employers are encouraging their staff to take breaks to avoid burnout, according to a new survey by the Conference Board of Canada.

About a third (33 per cent) of survey respondents said they’re encouraging staff to take all of their vacation time before the end of the year, with 32 per cent suggesting staff take at least some time off. Just 21 per cent of employers said they’re requiring employees to take at least some vacation, with a further 10 per cent requiring them to take all of their vacation time. Almost two in 10 (17 per cent) said they haven’t communicated vacation expectations to their employees, while just three per cent said they’re requiring staff to take time off on days selected by the employer.

Read: 5 benefits predictions for the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic

For those employers mandating that staff take their vacation, more than half said they aren’t exempting employees in critical roles (52 per cent), front-line workers (69 per cent) or employees that have increased workloads due to the pandemic (56 per cent).

The survey also found the majority (86 per cent) of employers said they’re encouraging or requiring staff to take vacation to address employee mental-health and avoid potential burnout. Many (82 per cent) said they want to help employees balance their family responsibilities, while 62 per cent said they’re trying to ease the financial liability of accumulated vacation time and 39 per cent said they’re trying to address reduced workload because of the pandemic.

“Canadian workers are facing a variety of stressors and demands related to COVID-19 and deserve a much-needed break,” says Allison Cowan, the CBOC’s director of human capital, in a press release. “Employers are encouraging the use of vacation days to support mental health, prevent burnout and help employees balance family responsibilities.”

Read: The benefits of taking vacation days

One-third (32 per cent) of employers said their organizations have changed their approach to vacation, while a further 22 per cent said they’re considering making changes. However, of this group, the vast majority (92 per cent) said they aren’t touching vacation entitlements. Nearly two in 10 (18 per cent) said they’ve changed the amount of carry-over time available to staff, with three-quarters (72 per cent) of that group saying they’re giving employees more carry-over time than they had offered previously.

Nearly half (45 per cent) said they’re reviewing unused vacation that employees can’t carry over. Just a quarter (25 per cent) said they plan to pay out that vacation, while the same amount said it would be forfeited.

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

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