Virtual HR Department

Compensation and Benefits

Other VHRD Sections

The most common policy elements in this area are vacation, paid lunch periods, maternity/parental leave top-ups, bereavement leave and personal days for such issues as education, family care and community service.  In addition, there are legislated elements such as breaks, lunch periods, jury duty and providing time off to vote.

There can be a lot of value associated with these elements and, for many organizations with budget limitations, providing flexible and/or generous programs in these areas in lieu of higher salaries can be an effective tool for competing with higher-paying industries and organizations.


While there are provincial standards for minimum vacation allowances (links to provincial standards websites are available in the Resources and Links section of this website) that companies are required to provide, it is common practice for employers to offer employees vacation entitlement that goes beyond these requirements.

In order to increase their ability to compete for talent, many organizations now offer higher numbers of vacation days to new employees, and recognize years of experience and vacation entitlement that employees had at other organizations when determining what vacation entitlement to include in the offer of employment.

Typically, employees are provided additional vacation time as they reach specific levels of service with an organization. Commonly, increments of five years are used, with employees reaching a maximum of five to six weeks of vacation entitlement after 20 to 25 years of service.

Paid Lunch Periods

Employers sometimes offer a paid lunch period of 30 minutes as part of an eight-hour shift, instead of making the lunch break unpaid. If it is preferred to offer a one-hour lunch period, the time could be completely paid or split, with 30 minutes paid and 30 minutes unpaid.

This is a tool that can be used in recruitment materials and advertisements to promote ‘how well we take care of our employees.’ 

Maternity/Parental Leave Top-ups

Some organizations provide additional compensation to employees who are on maternity or parental leaves to top up the money that they receive from Employment Insurance. There are tax implications to these programs, of course, and it is recommended that you explore the costs and implementation process with your payroll provider and/or accountant.

Other Leaves and Time Off

There are a number of program ideas and templates in the Employment Policies and Reward and Recognition sections of this website.