Hours of work – IPG-002
Effective date: January 11, 1989
Revised date: January 9, 2023
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This Interpretation, Policy and Guideline (IPG) is intended to clarify the definition of hours of work pursuant to Division I, Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Code).
There is a need to clarify:
- what is meant by the term “work”
- whether time-off in lieu of overtime is allowed, and
- whether the following terms fall within the definition of “hours of work”:
- training time
- travel time
- stand-by or on-call time
- waiting time
- lay-over time
The meaning of the term “work”
In general, an employee is performing “work" when the employee:
- is on any trial period or training required by the employer
- is on travel time required by the employer
- is at the employer’s disposal on the worksite. The employee is required to wait for their employer to assign them work or assign work outside their normal responsibilities, and
- is on a break granted by the employer but is required to remain at the employer’s disposal (for example, respond to clients or answer the telephone)
Compensating overtime for time-off in lieu
Section 174 of the Code stipulates that employers must pay their employees for overtime. It also specifies that compensating overtime for time off in lieu is allowed. It is only allowed provided the leave accumulated is calculated at a rate of 1.5 hours of leave for each overtime hour worked.
The employer must maintain records to show that they are following the practice of providing overtime through time-off in lieu. Employers must clearly record overtime hours worked and time-off at the overtime rate.
There are time-off in lieu provisions included in some collective agreements. However, this IPG is intended for arrangements that are not contained in a collective agreement.
An employer who offers time-off in lieu arrangements, should include the following:
- the parties must enter into a written agreement that employers will compensate overtime as time off in lieu
- the rate must not be less than 1.5 times the regular rate for each overtime hour worked
- the employee must take the paid leave on an agreed date
- the employee must take time off in lieu within 3 months or within 12 months when the parties agree on a date in writing
Section 174 of the Code does not apply to student interns who are fulfilling the requirements of their educational program.
Whether the following terms fall within the definition of “hours of work”
Given the wide interpretations of the meaning of work, the following can be concluded:
- training required by law (for example, hazardous products training) constitutes hours of work
- training required by the employer (for example, instructing for a new aspect of the employee's job) constitutes hours of work
- training initiated by preference of the employee does not constitute hours of work
- developmental voluntary training which prepares the employee for another job does not constitute hours of work
The interpretation of training time does not affect the operation of section 11 of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations concerning registered apprenticeship programs.
In general travel time is not considered to be hours of work for the purposes of the Code. Some specific industry regulations or collective agreements allow travel time as hours of work. These must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Travel time could be considered work in the following cases:
- if the employee or student intern takes a company vehicle home in the evening for the employer’s convenience
- if the employer requires the employee or student intern to transport other staff or supplies to or from the workplace or work site
- if the employee or student intern has a usual workplace but their employer requires them to travel to another location to perform work
- if the employer requires the employee or student intern to travel to different sites to carry out his functions not using the employer’s vehicle
Travel time is not considered work while commuting to and from the usual workplace. It is well accepted by an employee or student intern to get to and from work is generally not considered work time. This is regardless of whether the employee or student intern starts and ends his day at his residence or at the employer’s lodging.
Stand-by or on-call time
Please refer to the definition in Elect-to-work and On-Call or Standby employees IPG-110. While “stand-by” or “on-call” employees are common to many industries, the time spent waiting for a call is not considered work.
“Waiting time” applies mostly in the trucking industry. “Working hours” usually means all hours from the time that a motor vehicle operator begins their work shift until the time they are relieved of their job responsibilities. It does not include certain times:
- during a work shift when they are relieved of their job responsibilities. This includes authorized meals, rest and other wait time while en route or at their destination
- spent during stops en route due to illness or fatigue
- resting en route as one of 2 operators of a motor vehicle that is fitted with a sleeper berth
- resting while en route in a motel, hotel or other similar regular place of rest where sleeping accommodation is provided
Generally, “waiting time” is not considered to be “hours of work” to be paid.
This period is a common occurrence in the road transportation industry.
A “lay-over” occurs when a driver completes their delivery and is awaiting further instructions regarding other possible pick-ups.
The period that the driver is out of service is a lay-over and this is not considered to be hours of work.
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