Hours of Work

Is there a limit on the number of hours that an employee can work?

Yes. If your job is covered by the Alberta Employment Standards Code (see link below), you can work for up to twelve hours in one day. Anything above this can only occur on an emergency basis, for example, if plant or machinery needs urgent work, or with authorization from the Director of Employment Standards.

I work shifts. Last week my boss told me I had to stay and work a double shift. Can he do this?

Not if your job is covered by the Employment Standards Code (see link below). He cannot require you to do this unless you have 24 hours written notice and eight hours of rest between shifts.

I work as a cook at a family restaurant. On Saturdays when we are really busy I start work at 10 a.m. and often do not get to rest until the lunch rush is over at 3 p.m. Is this legal?

Yes. Your employer should give you rest periods at work. For every five hours that you work at a time, you should get thirty minutes rest. In your example, you should have a rest at 3 p.m.

My boss likes me to work for ten hours a day, but only for four days a week. Is this legal?

Yes. This is called a compressed workweek. You work for fewer days in the week, but for longer hours and are paid at your regular wage rate.

Are there any limits on the number of days and hours that can be worked in a compressed workweek?

Yes. Your employer must schedule the compressed workweek in advance. The schedule must show the whole cycle of the compressed workweek. If the hours are planned over four weeks, the whole four-week cycle must be shown.

The maximum number of hours that can be worked in a compressed workweek is forty-four, unless there is a cycle. If there is a cycle, the average number of hours in each week in the cycle cannot exceed forty-four. The number of hours in a workday cannot exceed twelve.

When I interviewed for a job, the employer said I might have to work weekends. Can this be a job requirement?

Yes. Although the Employment Standards Code (see link below) states that an employer must allow employees days of rest, in Alberta there is no mention which days they have to be. If weekend work is a job requirement, consider this when deciding whether to take the job.

What are the rest periods required by law?

The Employment Standards Code (see link below) requires one day of rest in every workweek, two consecutive days in a period of two consecutive workweeks, and so on up to four consecutive workweeks.

After twenty-four consecutive workdays, there must be at least four days rest.

Special rules apply to the trucking industry: an employee must have eight hours of rest after completing a shift.

Which employees are exempt from the Employment Standards Code provisions relating to hours of work, rest, and overtime?

The following are exempt:

  • managers, supervisors, and those employed in a confidential capacity;
  • domestic workers and farm workers;
  • professionals, including lawyers, certified or chartered accountants, architects, chiropractors, dentists, engineers, optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists, and veterinarians;
  • salespersons of automobiles, trucks, buses, farm machinery, road construction equipment, heavy duty equipment, mobile homes, or residential homes;
  • salespersons who solicit orders, principally outside of the employer’s place of business, who are fully or partly paid by commission (this does not apply to route salespersons);
  • licensed salespersons of real estate, insurance, and securities;
  • salespersons for licensed direct sellers;
  • licensed land agents;
  • extras in a video or film production.

I currently work 40 hours per week (5×8 hours per day) at one job. I also work at an additional part time job elsewhere (approximately 25 hours per week.) I prefer my full-time job, and there is plenty of work. Can I work 6×10 hour days with that employer, for a total of a 60 hour work week?

Yes. However, you are not permitted to work more 12 hours per day. In addition, unless your job is exempt from the overtime provisions, the law says that any work time over 8 hours per day, or 44 hours per week (whichever is greater) is overtime and must be paid as such.

I was hired for a full-time job, but I work less than 40 hours per week, and sometimes, when there is not much work, by boss cuts back my hours to only about 32 hours a week. Is there a minimum number of hours that I must work in order to be “full-time”?

The Employment Standards Code does not define full-time in terms of a number of hours. This may be defined by your employment contract or the personnel policies of your place of employment. If not, you may ask to negotiate a definition of full-time hours with your employer.


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