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General Guidelines by Province

To the right you will find general guidelines on key points regarding hours of work, with links to some of the legislation. If you can't find the information you need or are wondering what your next step should be, we encourage you to visit our Get Help page.

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Hours of Work

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All Canadian jurisdictions have some form of legislation or regulation dictating the number of hours of work an employee can perform in any said day, week or pay period.

There is little to no uniformity in provincial or federal employment standards regarding hours of work in Canada. Most jurisdictions have exceptions for such things as averaging agreements, ministerial permits, collective agreements, job classification exemptions and emergency situations.

Determining your rights regarding hours of work can be a difficult task. It requires careful reading of the appropriate section(s) of legislation and corresponding regulations. In addition there are numerous exceptions and exemptions that may need to be considered.

Alberta

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Work must be confined to 12 consecutive hours in a day. However, the director of Employment Standards can issue a permit authorizing extended hours of work.

• In the event of an accident or when plant machinery is urgently in need of repair or replacement, your employer is permitted to extend your work day, but only to the extent necessary "to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of a business, undertaking or other activity."

• In Alberta you are entitled to at least one day of rest per work week or two, three or four consecutive days off in corresponding consecutive work-week periods. It is required that you have eight consecutive hours off between shifts.

• Legislation allows for compressed work weeks under strict guidelines.

• Your employer must post your start and end times of work and is not permitted to change this without giving you at least a 24-hour written notice.

British Columbia

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The legislation governing hours of work in B.C. is very complicated. Although regular hours are stated as eight per day or 40 per week, your employer can extend those hours through the imposition of mandatory overtime.

• The requisite 32 consecutive hours free from work per week can be undermined through mandatory overtime or emergency situations.

• The only real restriction on hours of work that can be found in the province’s Employment Standards Act is under section 39: "Despite any provision of this Part, an employer must not require or directly or indirectly allow an employee to work excessive hours or hours detrimental to the employee's health or safety." Should the director of Employment Standards determine that your health or safety is at risk as a result of excessive hours of work, limitations and other terms or conditions can be imposed.

• You are required to have eight hours of rest between shifts.

• In British Columbia the legislation stipulates that you must be paid for a minimum number of hours of work should you show up as scheduled but are no longer needed.

Federal

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If your employment is within federal jurisdiction, standard hours of work shall not exceed eight per day or 40 per week.

• Regulations allow for averaging agreements and modified work schedules where a collective agreement exists or, if there is none, 70 per cent of employees must agree. Such agreements can extend the hours of work per week to 48.

• Federal legislation requires that hours of work be scheduled to ensure at least one day off a week and, where practicable, it shall be Sunday.

• Hours of work in excess of the maximum are allowed in emergency situations — "only to the extent necessary to prevent serious interference with the ordinary working of the industrial establishment" — or by ministerial permit.

Manitoba

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The standard hours of work are eight per day or 40 per week, after which overtime must be paid.

• The standard hours of work in Manitoba can be affected by averaging agreements or increased by permission of the director of Employment Standards to what is considered to be "fair and reasonable".

• You are entitled to a rest period of 24 consecutive hours each week.

However, your employer can apply for an exemption from this requirement.

• You are not required to work overtime except in an emergency situation and for only as long as is absolutely needed.

New Brunswick

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This province has no standard hours of work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

• The lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick can prescribe maximum number of hours, depending on the industry and job classification.

• The only general restriction is that your employer must give you a minimum 24-hour rest period each week, preferably a Sunday.

Newfoundland and Labrador

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The standard hours of work is 40 per week as set by the lieutenant-governor through regulation.

• There is no standard for hours of work on a daily basis although your employer must give you a minimum eight consecutive hours off work each day.

• In Newfoundland and Labrador you are entitled to 24 hours rest from work each week.

Nova Scotia

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In Nova Scotia there is no legislation that restricts hours of work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

• Your employer must provide you with a minimum 24-hour rest period each week.

Ontario

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The basic limitation on hours of work is set at eight per day or 48 per week.

• Exceptions to the limit can be made with the written agreement of the employee, but under no circumstances should they exceed 60 hours in any given week. In some cases, the approval of the director of Employment Standards is required; taken into consideration are such factors as current or past contraventions of the Act by the employer and health and safety of employees.

• Ontario requires a minimum 11 consecutive hours free from work in every 24-hour period, eight hours between shifts, and 24 consecutive hours off per week or 48 consecutive hours off in a two-week period.

• An employee may be required to work excess hours (in event of an emergency; to deliver essential public services; to ensure that continuous processes or seasonal operations are not interrupted; or to carry out urgent repair work) but "only so far as is necessary to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s establishment or operations." All exceptions must be under unforeseen circumstances and not the manner in which the employer conducts business on a regular basis.

Prince Edward Island

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The standard hours of work per week is 48.

• P.E.I. has no regulations governing daily work hours.

• You are entitled to a rest period of 24 consecutive hours a week, subject to certain exemptions due mainly to seasonal work.

Quebec

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The standard work week in Quebec is 40 hours.

• On a daily basis, you can refuse to work more than four additional hours of your regular shift or more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period, whichever is shorter.

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

• You are entitled to a rest period of at least 32 consecutive hours each week.

• The Commission des normes du travail can give its authorization for your employer to stagger your working hours over several weeks.

Saskatchewan

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The standard for hours of work is eight (10 in a four day week) in a day and 40 in a week although this can be modified by averaging agreements.

• You work a maximum of 12 hours a day or 44 in a week, unless you agree to additional hours.

• You must have a minimum eight hours off every 24-hour period and, on a weekly basis, one day off if you work more than 20 hours.