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, 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.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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

No, not if your job is covered by the Employment Standards Code. Your boss cannot require you to do this unless you have 24 hours written notice and eight hours of rest between shifts.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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.

The thirty minutes can be provided in one unbroken period or in a series of breaks (either two fifteen minute periods or three ten minute periods). Your break may be paid or unpaid, depending on your employer’s choice. However, if your employer sets restrictions on you during the break (for example, not being allowed to leave the employee’s premises, the break must be paid.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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 work week. You work for fewer days in the week, but for longer hours and are paid at your regular wage rate.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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

Yes. Your employer must schedule the compressed work week in advance. The schedule must show the whole cycle of the compressed work week. 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 work week 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 work day cannot exceed twelve.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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 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.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

What are the rest periods required by law?

The Employment Standards Code requires one day of rest in every work week, two consecutive days in a period of two consecutive work weeks, and so on up to four consecutive work weeks.

After twenty-four consecutive workdays, an employee is entitled to at least four days rest.

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

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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

The following employees 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.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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, my 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.

Last Reviewed: July 2016


Share this: