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Can employees work more than the standard hours of work set in law?

Can employees work more than the standard hours of work set in law?

Cristina Lavecchia, Editor, HRinfodesk, published by First Reference, May 2017

Arecent HRinfodesk poll asked participants whether they knew if their jurisdiction allows employees to work in excess of the standard hours of work set in law. 93 percent who participate in the poll answered “yes.” Which in general is correct but there are some variations.

Not every Canadian jurisdiction has standard daily workday and workweek provisions in their employment/labour standards legislation, but in jurisdictions with no such standards, certain guidelines are established. Within such legislation, in some form, there are terms that allow employees to work more than the standard hours of work established in law or allow employers to require employees to work beyond those standard hours of work.

The following is a brief overview of each Canadian jurisdiction's standard daily workday and workweek as set in the law, accompanied by some of the provisions which allow for employees to work more than those standards.

 

 

Daily hours

Weekly hours

Extended work hours

Alberta

Employment Standards Code

8 hours a day, however, an employee's hours of work must be confined within a period of 12 consecutive hours in any one work day. For instance, an employee who commences work at 7 a.m. cannot work past 7 p.m.

44 hours (maximum for purposes of overtime only)

The Director of Employment Standards can issue a permit authorizing extended hours of work beyond the 12 consecutive hours of work. Other exceptions to the above rule also include: a) an accident occurs, urgent work is necessary to a plant or machinery, or b) other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances occur.

If hours of work must be extended, they are to be increased only to the extent necessary to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of a business, undertaking or other activity.

Permits to extend consecutive hours of work do not alter or affect overtime provisions that otherwise apply

British Columbia

Employment Standards Act

8 hours

A split shift must be completed within 12 hours of when the shift started.

40 hours

An employer must not require or allow an employee to work excessive hours or hours harmful to the employee's health or safety.

Under certain conditions employers can establish work arrangements and schedules that do not strictly meet the requirements of the Employment Standards Act. In these cases, the employer and affected employees can apply to the Director of Employment Standards for a “Variance.” Variances can apply, among other things, to hours of work (minimum and maximum hours of work).

Permits to extend consecutive hours of work do not alter or affect overtime provisions that otherwise apply.

Manitoba

Employment Standards Code

8 hours

40 hours

Variations from normal hours require the approval of the Director, Employment Standards and the total weekly hours may not exceed 40 hours. The Director extends the hours of work to what he or she considers fair and reasonable.

New Brunswick

Employment Standards Act

Unlimited, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee may work during any day, week or month.

44 (maximum for purposes of overtime only)

Regulation may prescribe the maximum number of hours an employer may require an employee to work during a daily, weekly or monthly period at the minimum wage rate, and may prescribe the employees or categories of employees in any industry, business, trade or occupation to which the prescribed maximum number of hours will apply.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Labour Standards Act

Unlimited, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee may work during any day, week or month.

40 hours (maximum for purposes of overtime only)

Regulation may prescribe the maximum number of hours an employer may require an employee to work during a daily, weekly or monthly period at the minimum wage rate, and may prescribe the employees or categories of employees in any industry, business, trade or occupation to which the prescribed maximum number of hours will apply.

Nova Scotia

Labour Standards Code

Unlimited, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee may work during any day, week or month.

48 hours (maximum for purposes of overtime only)

Employers may apply to the Director of Labour Standards for an exemption from this requirement (hours of work) of the Labour Standards Code. The Director or a Labour Standards officer will find out if the employer and most of the employees agree and may grant the exemption or require another arrangement for a rest period.

Ontario

Employment Standards Act, 2000

8 hours or the hours in an established regular workday set by the employer.

48 hours

Employees can be required to work in excess of the limits set out in the ESA and without their consent in exceptional circumstances-but only so far as is necessary to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer's establishment or operations-if:

  • there is an emergency;
     
  • something unforeseen occurs, to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services such as those in hospitals, regardless of who delivers these services;
     
  • something unforeseen occurs, to ensure continuous processes or seasonal operations are not interrupted; or
     
  • Urgent repair work to the employer's plant or equipment is needed.

The Employment Standards Act permits an employee's hours of work to exceed daily or weekly maximum hours provided the following conditions are met:

  • the employee has made a written agreement with the employer that the employee will work up to a specified number of hours in a workweek in excess of the limit;
     
  • the employer has received an approval from the Director of Employment Standards that applies to the employee or to a class of employees that includes the employee;
     
  • the employee's hours of work in a workweek do not exceed the lesser of the number of hours specified in the agreement and the number of hours specified in the approval;
     
  • The agreement must comply with legislated standards for hours free from work and for eating periods.

All agreements for working hours in excess of 48 hours per week require the Director's approval.

Prince Edward Island

Employment Standards Act

Unlimited, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee may work during any day, week or month.

48 hours (maximum for purposes of overtime only)

Employment Standards Board is allowed under the ESA to vary from the established standard workweek if it considers it appropriate. The board may exempt specific employers or industries from the standard workweek provisions and may substitute other prescribed standards for an employer or industry. In granting any such exemption, the board shall take into account the following factors:

  • the seasonal nature of the work;
     
  • the effect of the extended hours on the health and safety of workers and the public;
     
  • work requirements that include the need to have employees in the work premises while not always engaged in work-related activities; and
     
  • the duration of the work schedule proposed by the employer or customary in the industry.

Saskatchewan

Employment Act

8 hours or 10 hours (if using a 4-day week)

40 hours

Unless there are emergency circumstances, employees do not have to work or be at the employer's disposal for more than a maximum of 44 hours per week. An employee may agree to work extra hours. An “emergency circumstance” is a situation where there is an imminent risk or danger to a person, property or an employer's business that could not have been foreseen by the employer. Overtime rules may apply.

Under certain conditions employers can establish work arrangements and schedules that do not strictly meet the requirements of the Employment Act. In these cases, the employer and affected employees can apply to the Director of Employment Standards for authorization to vary from the requirement of the Act.

Quebec

An Act Respecting Labour Standards

There is no legislation governing maximum daily hours of work. However, on a daily basis, employees can refuse to work more than four additional hours of his or her regular shift or more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period, whichever is shorter.

Where employees have flexible or non-continuous daily working hours, they may refuse to work more than 12 hours per 24-hour period.

Common standard hours of work is 40 hours.

There is no legislation governing maximum hours.

Although there is no legislated maximum for working hours, employers are required to comply with the legislated overtime and rest period requirements.

Employees can refuse to work more than 50 hours in a week.

Employees working in the James Bay territory or in an isolated area may refuse to work more than 60 hours per week.

Federally Regulated

Canada Labour Code

8 hours

>Common standard hours of work is 40 hours/Maximum weekly hours of work is 48.

The Minister of Labour may grant a permit authorizing employees to work in excess of the above maximum only to the extent necessary to prevent serious interference with business operations if there is an accident to persons, machinery or equipment; urgent or essential work needs to be done to machinery, equipment or a plant; or other unforeseen situations that may arise.

Yukon

Employment Standards Act

There are no daily maximum hours. Although there is no legislated maximum for working hours, employers are required to comply with the legislated overtime and rest period requirements.

There are no weekly maximum hours. Although there is no legislated maximum for working hours, employers are required to comply with the legislated overtime and rest period requirements.

Overtime must be paid on hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week, whichever is greater.

Subject to the employer's operational requirements, the employer must give an employee reasonable notice of overtime work, unless there is an emergency. Employees may refuse to work overtime for "just cause," but must put their reasons in writing.

Northwest Territories

Employment Standards Act

Maximum of 10 hours per day

Maximum of 60 hours per week

Overtime must be paid on hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week, whichever is greater.

Employers may apply to the Employment Standards Officer for a permit authorizing employees to work in excess of the above maximums if the work is seasonal or intermittent or if there are exceptional circumstances.

Employers may require employees to exceed the maximum hours in the case of an accident, urgent work or another unforeseen circumstance, but only to the extent required to prevent “serious interference” in the employer's operations.

Nunavut

Employment Standards Act

Maximum of 10 hours per day

Maximum of 60 hours per week

Overtime must be paid on hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week, whichever is greater.

Employers may apply to the Employment Standards Officer for a permit authorizing employees to work in excess of the above maximums if the work is seasonal or intermittent or if there are exceptional circumstances.

Employers may require employees to exceed the maximum hours in the case of an accident, urgent work or another unforeseen circumstance, but only to the extent required to prevent “serious interference” in the employer's operations.

It is important to note the above chart is simply a brief overview of the law and is not an all-inclusive guide, as there may be additional terms, stipulations, exceptions and so forth that have not been listed. Ultimately, the applicable employment/labour standards legislation of your jurisdiction should be consulted. In the meantime, consider consulting the discussion Hours of work and Overtime in The Human Resources Advisor. There you will find a more comprehensive guide of when overtime hours must be paid, including information on overtime pay and averaging hours of work to determine overtime entitlement. If you are not already a subscriber, click here for a free trial!



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