The standard working hours in Canada are Monday to Friday, between 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., for a total of 37.5 – 40 hours per week (7.5 or 8 hours per day).
In most cases, employees can work a maximum of 48 hours weekly; however, after the standard 8 hours daily or 40 hours weekly, employers must compensate employees with overtime pay. The exact amount depends on the employee’s regular schedule, role, and what is agreed upon in the contract. Employers cannot force employees to work more than their scheduled hours. There’s no limitation on how many hours an employee can work in New Brunswick.
Employers and employees can agree through an opt-out agreement to opt out of the maximum weekly working hours imposed by the Working Time Regulations. Employees may also enter into an hours averaging plan with their employer.
Hours worked beyond (1) the standard weekly 40 in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon (44 in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick; 48 in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and (2) 40 hours for federally regulated employees except when special regulations or modified work schedules apply trigger overtime pay. Overtime compensation is a fixed rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular wage.
Weeks that contain holidays must reduce the standard working hours by 8 hours for each holiday. In a week when a holiday occurs, overtime would apply after 32 hours.
The Federal Employment Standards dictate that employees can choose to substitute overtime pay for time off at a rate of 1.5 hours for every overtime hour worked.
Certain professions, such as doctors and lawyers, and high-level salaried employees, superintendents, and managers aren’t entitled to overtime pay. However, other salaried exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay.
In Ontario, information technology professionals are usually excluded from many of the protections awarded in the Employment Standards Act, including daily/weekly limits on hours of work, daily rest periods, time off between shifts, eating periods, and overtime pay. This is also true of high technology professionals in BC. Specific exclusions vary according to each province/territory.
Employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break for every five hours of work (one hour in Newfoundland and Labrador). If the employee is required to remain available for work during their break, employers are required to provide employees with paid meal breaks.
Although coffee breaks aren’t mandatory, if an employer decides to grant it to an employee, it must be paid.
Employees are also entitled to one full day of rest each week, which usually falls on a Sunday. In British Columbia and Quebec, an employee must have at least 32 straight hours free from work each week.
There are no limitations on the timing of an employee’s night shift schedule other than the statutory rest breaks already mentioned above. Moreover, employers aren’t required to provide transportation to and from work if an employee works late.
Time tracking obligations
For 36 months, employers must keep records of all hours worked by employees regardless of whether the employee is paid hourly or is salaried or is entitled to overtime pay. Some records are required to be retained for longer (e.g., retention of vacation time records in Ontario are required to be kept for five years).
Fines start at CAD$500 for one infraction, but the penalties become more severe if an employer violates the time tracking repeatedly (CAD$2,500 for the second time, CAD$10,000 for the third time) and even more if an employer is caught with unpaid overtime claims due to the lack of time tracking.