Hours of work - Federally regulated workplaces

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Note: for the purpose of this web page, reference to “employee(s)” includes persons that are often referred to as “interns”. It excludes “student interns” who are undertaking internships to fulfill the requirements of their educational program.

Division I of Part III of the Canada Labour Code (hours of work) does not apply to:

  • managers
  • superintendents
  • employees who exercise management functions, or
  • members of any of the following professions:
    • architectural
    • dental
    • engineering
    • legal, or
    • medical

For technical guidance, please consult Clarification on Excluded Employees (IPG-049)

Standard hours of work

As an employee or student intern, your standard hours of work are:

  • 8 hours in a day (any period of 24 consecutive hours)
  • 40 hours in a week (the period between midnight on Saturday and midnight on the Saturday that immediately follows)

You are entitled to one full day of rest each week, which usually falls on a Sunday. You are also entitled to breaks and a rest period.

During a week when one or more general holidays occur, the standard hours of work are reduced by 8 hours for each holiday.

Regulations set out exemptions from or different standard hours of work for certain classes of employees:

Overtime

Any hours worked in excess of the standard hours of work are considered overtime hours. When working overtime you are entitled to:

  • pay of at least 1.5 times the regular hourly wage, or
  • time off with pay, equivalent to 1.5 hours of time off for every hour worked (for example, 5 hours of overtime worked = 7.5 hours of time off with pay)

For time off with pay, you must:

  • make a request to your employer and have an agreement in writing which includes the agreed upon dates when you will take time off, and
    • if you are subject to a collective agreement, take the time off within a period of 3 months after the end of the pay period on which the overtime was worked or within any longer period set out by a collective agreement
    • if you are not subject to a collective agreement, take the time off within a period of 3 months after the end of the pay period on which the overtime was worked or any longer period not exceeding 12 months, agreed by you and your employer in writing

Note: if your employment ends before taking time off in lieu of pay, your employer must pay the overtime within 30 days from the end of employment.

Your total daily overtime may differ from your total weekly overtime hours. In that case, your employer must use the greater of the 2 amounts to calculate overtime payments.

For certain classes of employees, regulations set out modifications to or exemptions from overtime or when your overtime hours start:

Right to refuse overtime

You have the right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities related to:

  • the health or care of any of your family members, or
  • the education of any of your family members who are less than 18 years of age

Before refusing overtime, you must first take reasonable steps to deal with these family responsibilities in some other way. If despite your efforts, you are still required to meet those family responsibilities during the overtime period, only then you can refuse overtime.

For technical guidance, please consult the following Interpretations, Policies, and Guidelines (IPGs):

Exception

You cannot refuse to work overtime if it is necessary due to a situation that your employer could not reasonably anticipate and that presents or could reasonably present any of the following imminent or serious threats:

  • to the life, health or safety of a person
  • of damage to or loss of property, or
  • of serious interference with the normal operation of the employer’s establishment

Maximum hours of work

In most cases, the maximum hours of work allowable in a week is 48.

If you are a person doing both an unpaid student internship to fulfill the requirements of your educational program and paid employment with the same employer, your total hours of work must not exceed:

  • 10 hours in a day, or
  • 48 hours in a week

The maximum hours of work in a week can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances. For example, the maximum hours of work can be exceeded:

  • under an excess hour permit
  • for emergency work
  • under an averaging plan
  • under a modified work schedule

Regulations set out exemptions from or modifications to what maximum hours of work is for certain classes of employees:

Exceptional circumstances (excess hour permit)

The Head of Compliance and Enforcement (Head) may grant a permit to an employer specifying the number of hours employees may work. To do this, the employer must satisfy the Head that:

  • exceptional circumstances make extra work necessary, and
  • the application for the permit is posted for employees to see for at least 30 days prior to its proposed effective date

The employer must normally apply 60 days in advance of the proposed effective date of the excess hours permit. The permit may also exempt the employer from the "day of rest" requirement. Obtaining a permit does not exempt the employer from the obligation to pay overtime.

The employer must report in writing to the Head within 15 days after the permit expires or at another date specified in the permit. The report must show the number of:

  • employees who worked more than 48 hours in a week, and
  • additional hours in a week each employee worked

Federally regulated employers may use the application form available on the Government of Canada web site to apply for a permit.

Emergency work

In case of emergency, such as an accident or essential work on equipment, an employer may exceed the maximum hours of work without a permit.

The employer must submit a report to the Head and if applicable to a trade union representing affected employees, within 15 days of the end of the month in which the employee(s) worked emergency hours. The report must include the:

  • nature of the emergency
  • number of employees working in excess of the maximum hours, and
  • number of additional hours each employee worked

The emergency work reports can be submitted by email to the following regional addresses:

Averaging

In some establishments, the nature of work necessitates irregular hours of work due to seasonal or other factors. This means that as an employee, you may be subject to:

  • scheduled hours that vary from time to time, or
  • no regularly scheduled hours

If this applies to you, your employer may average your hours of work over a period of 2 or more weeks. As such, standard and maximum hours would be calculated across a period of 2 or more weeks rather than on a daily or weekly basis.

For technical guidance, please consult Averaging (IPG-053).

Modified work schedule

Modified work schedules may provide you and your employer with greater flexibility in the workplace as they allow employees to work outside the standard hours of work. Examples of modified work schedules include:

  • compressed work weeks
  • flexible hours of work

Note: you can also request modified work schedules under the right to request flexible work arrangements. For more information, please consult the Flexible Work Arrangements web page.

If you have a modified work schedule:

  • your standard hours of work for a period of 2 or more weeks cannot exceed an average of 40 hours in a week
  • the maximum hours for the same period cannot exceed an average of 48 hours in a week
  • your employer must pay overtime when your daily or weekly hours exceed those established under the modified work schedule. Overtime must also be paid when your hours exceed an average of 40 hours in a week where the schedule consists of 2 or more weeks

If you are a student intern, your employer may establish a modified work schedule with your approval. This schedule can exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. However, it cannot exceed 40 hours per week averaged over a period of 2 or more weeks.

Requirements for creating, changing or canceling a modified work schedule

There are some requirements for creating, changing, or canceling a modified work schedule for one employee or a group of employees.

If you are covered by a collective agreement:

  • your employer and the union must agree to the modified work schedule in writing

If you are not covered by a collective agreement:

  • one employee or a group of employees must approve the modified work schedule:
    • for one employee, the schedule must be approved, in writing, by the affected employee and their employer
    • for a group of employees, the schedule must be approved by at least 70% of the affected employees

For employees covered and not covered by a collective agreement, employers must post a notice of the new, revised or cancelled schedule at least 30 days before the schedule starts.

Break, rest period, notice of work schedule and shift change

As an employee, and subject to the Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations, you are entitled to a break, rest period, notice of work schedule and notice of a shift change, as detailed below.

Break

You are entitled to and shall be granted an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes during every period of 5 consecutive hours of work. If your employer requires you to be at their disposal during the break period, the employee must be paid for the break.

Rest period

You are entitled to and shall be granted a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between work periods or shifts.

Note: For more information on Break and Rest period, please visit the Break and rest period web page.

Advanced notice of work schedules

As an employee or student intern, your employer must, unless indicated otherwise in the terms of a collective agreement, notify you in writing of your schedule at least 96 hours before the first day of the schedule. The schedule must also include any of your standby or on-call shifts.

You may refuse to work any shift in your schedule that starts within the 96-hour notice period.

Exception:

You cannot refuse work that starts within the 96-hour notice period of your schedule if it is necessary due to a situation that your employer could not reasonably foresee and that presents or could reasonably present any of the following imminent or serious threats:

If you are an employee with no regular work schedule or with some periods where you are on on-call or on standby, please consult IPG-110 - Elect-to-work and On-Call or Standby employees for how the provisions related to notice of work schedules apply to you.

Advanced notice of a shift change

As an employee or student intern, your employer must inform you in writing at least 24 hours before a shift change or addition. Your employer must also give you 24 hours’ notice before adding or changing a period during which you are scheduled to be on standby or on-call.

Exception:

Your employer is not required to give you 24-hour notice of a shift change if it is necessary due to a situation that your employer could not reasonably anticipate and that presents or could reasonably present any of the following imminent or serious threats:

  • to the life, health or safety of a person
  • of damage to or loss of property, or
  • of serious interference with the normal operation of the employer’s establishment

If you are an employee with no regular work schedule or with some periods where you are on on-call or on standby, please consult IPG-110 - Elect-to-work and On-Call or Standby employees for how the provisions related to notice of shift change apply to you.

Exemptions from, and Modifications to, Hours of Work Provisions Regulations

The Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations (Regulations) exempt classes of employees from certain hours of work provisions or modify the provisions for the purpose of application to certain classes of employees. The Regulations are coming into force in 2 phases.

Phase 1 of the Regulations came into force on February 1, 2022, and they apply exclusively to the following sectors:

  • road transportation
  • postal and courier
  • marine, and
  • grain

The Regulations list classes of employees, by sector, that are exempt from, or for whom the hours of work provisions are modified.

Note: For more information on which exemptions and/or modifications apply to you, please consult the Regulations.

Phase 2 of the Regulations will cover the following sectors:

  • rail transportation
  • air transportation
  • banking, and
  • telecommunications and broadcasting

Note: Phase 2 of the Regulations are not yet in force. For information on the application of certain hours of work provisions for the phase 2 sectors, prior to the coming into force date, please consult IPG 101 - Scope of application.

Refer to the Labour Program Forward Regulatory Plan: 2022 to 2024 on the Labour Program’s website for updates on the upcoming Regulations.

Keeping records

As a federally regulated employer, you must keep accurate records that show the hours an employee has worked each day. You must retain these records for 36 months after the work is finished. You can use the records to:

  • calculate overtime entitlements including overtime pay and time off in lieu of overtime pay
  • demonstrate compliance should the need arise

For more information on record keeping requirements, please consult the Employer Compliance webpage.

For more information:

Hours of work in the trucking industry

The Motor Vehicle Operators Hours of Work Regulations (MVOHWR) replaces the standards hours of work and maximum hours of work under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. It sets the hours of work for:

  • bus operators
  • city motor vehicle operators, and
  • highway motor vehicle operators

    involved in the:

    • interprovincial transportation of passengers or goods
    • transportation of mail anywhere in Canada

Part III of the Code stipulates that hours of work shall be scheduled or worked so that each employee has at least 1 full day of rest in a week. Wherever practicable, this day of rest should be on a Sunday.

The MVOHWR provide that hours of work may be scheduled without regard for the weekly day of rest when:

  • the hours of work of non-driving employees are averaged, or
  • the nature of the work of a highway or city motor vehicle operator is such that:
    • irregular distribution of hours is required with the result that operators have no regularly scheduled daily or weekly hours
    • regularly scheduled hours are required but the number of hours differs from time to time
Trucking industry – applicable hours of work per class of employees:
Class Industry Standard hours after which overtime is payable- Daily Standard hours after which overtime is payable- Weekly Standard hours in a week in which a holiday occurs Averaging Permitted Maximum hours
Highway motor vehicle operators Transport of goods and mail n/a 60 50 No As per Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations
City motor vehicle operators Transport of goods and mail 9 45 36 No As per Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations
Bus operators Transport of passengers 8 40 32 Yes As per Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations
Shunt driver Transport – working exclusively within the yard 8 40 32 Yes 48 - Averaging permitted where applicable
Non-driving personnel (including maintenance personnel, warehousemen, office staff) All sectors 8 40 32 Yes 48 - Averaging permitted where applicable

Overtime

If your employer requests that you work more than the standard hours of work, your overtime entitlements, including the entitlement to time off in lieu of overtime pay, are the same as for other eligible employees under Part III of the Canada Labour Code.

Refer to the table in the section above for the standard hours after which overtime is payable.

Note: A day is defined as any period of 24 consecutive hours. A week is the period between midnight on Saturday and midnight on the immediately following Saturday.

Maximum hours of work

Motor vehicle operators, including all employees normally referred to as truck drivers and bus drivers, may work the maximum hours permitted by the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations (administered by Transport Canada).

All time from the beginning to the end of your shift should be paid. If you are a city or highway motor vehicle operator, the Labour Program does not count the following time when calculating working hours:

  • authorized meals and rest while en route, where you are relieved of your job responsibilities
  • en route rest stops due to illness or fatigue
  • time spent resting while en route as one of 2 operators of a motor vehicle that is fitted with a sleeper birth, and
  • time spent resting while en route in a motel, hotel or other similar place of rest where sleeping accommodation is provided (you need not actually be in a hotel or other place of rest, but must be free to spend leisure time as you please)

If you are a bus operator, time spent does not count when the bus is in the garage or parked and you are not required to stay with it.

If you are a shunt driver or non-driving personnel in the trucking industry, your maximum number of hours in a week is 48. Your employer may require or permit you to work more than 48 hours in a week:

  • in exceptional circumstances (excess hours permit)
  • to do emergency work, or
  • where averaging is permitted

Averaging

The working hours of a highway or city motor vehicle operator cannot be averaged.

Under certain circumstances, the standards hours of bus operators, shunt drivers and non-driving personnel may be average over a period of 2 or more weeks. The rules of averaging are the same as for other eligible employees under Part III of the Canada Labour Code.

Keeping records

As a federally regulated employer, you must keep accurate records that show the hours an employee has worked each day. You must retain these records (such as detailed logs) for 36 months after the work is finished. You can use the records to:

  • calculate overtime pay, at a rate of a minimum of 1.5 times the regular hourly wage, and
  • demonstrate compliance should the need arise

Under the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations, you must also keep detailed logs of the hours of work of motor vehicle operators. These are acceptable for the purpose of calculating overtime pay.

For more information on record keeping requirements, please consult the Employer Compliance webpage.

Mixed employment

Some drivers may experience mixed employment. Examples of mixed employment:

  • a city motor vehicle operator may also do the work of a highway motor vehicle operator and vice versa, or
  • a motor vehicle operator may also do the work of a non-driving employee and vice versa

In these cases, overtime hours may be calculated differently. Consult the following 2 examples:

Example 1

Monday to Thursday - 48 hours as a highway driver
Friday - 10 hours as a city driver and 2 hours as a warehouse worker

  • On a weekly basis:
    • the standard hours per week for highway drivers is 60
    • since the majority of hours worked in that week are as highway driver (48 hours), there is no overtime to be paid
  • On a daily basis:
    • for Friday, there is a mixed employment situation
    • the total of hours worked for that day is 12 hours
    • the majority of these hours were as a city motor vehicle operator and the standard daily hours as a city motor vehicle operator are 9
    • as such, the employee is entitled to 3 hours overtime for Friday

Example 2

Monday to Wednesday - 24 hours (8 hours per day) as a city driver
Thursday - 10 hours as a warehouse worker
Saturday - 10 hours as a highway driver

  • On a weekly basis:
    • the standards hours per week for city drivers are 45
    • the employee is subject to the standard hours of work for a city driver because they worked the majority of their hours this week (24 hours) as a city driver
    • there is no overtime to be paid because they worked a total of 44 hours in a week, 24 of which were as a city driver
  • On a daily basis:
    • overtime is required only for Thursday, where the majority of hours worked (10 hours) were as a warehouse worker
    • overtime is required on a daily basis after 8 hours for non-driving personnel, including warehouse workers
    • the employee is entitled to overtime pay for 2 hours worked on Thursday

Prevailing industry practice - Survey results

The MVOHWR defines when an employee may be classified as a city motor vehicle operator or a highway motor vehicle operator. The occupational classification will establish the overtime threshold for an employee.

The MVOHWR defines that an employee will be considered to be a city motor vehicle operator when:

  • the employee operates exclusively within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of the employee's home terminal, or
  • if the employee is classified as a city motor vehicle operator under a collective agreement

For cases that do not meet these criteria, it will be necessary to ascertain what the prevailing industry practice is in the geographical area where the employee is operating. This is accomplished by conducting a survey of federal jurisdiction trucking companies in the geographical area where the employee is working.

If a driver is uncertain whether a particular survey applies to them, they should contact their local Labour Program office.

The motor vehicle operator survey may provide various results for the prevailing industry practice in a geographical area:

Option 1: City drivers are drivers who operate exclusively within a described zone.

Zone Served by City drivers:

  • Furthest point northwest: ** km **
  • Furthest point north: ** km **
  • Furthest point northeast: ** km **
  • Furthest point east: ** km **
  • Furthest point southeast: ** km **
  • Furthest point south: ** km **
  • Furthest point southwest: ** km **
  • Furthest point west: ** km **

This finding is based on the fact that at least 70% of the companies surveyed classify their drivers who operate exclusively within this zone as city drivers. Therefore, this is confirmed as the prevailing industry practice for classifying drivers as city motor vehicle operators.

Option 2: City drivers are drivers who operate exclusively within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of their home terminal.

Option 3: There is no prevailing industry practice. Therefore, motor vehicle operators covered by the results of the survey are considered highway motor vehicle operators. They do not meet the definition of city drivers found in the MVOHWR.

The survey results are valid for 5 years from the date on which the survey was completed.

For technical guidance, please consult Survey Procedure for Ascertaining Whether or Not There is a Prevailing Industry Practice in a Geographical Area (IPG-071).

Definitions

The following definitions may assist you in understanding the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Operators Hours of Work Regulations.

Motor vehicle operator

A person who operates a motor vehicle. This includes highway and city truck drivers and bus operators.

Motor vehicle

Any vehicle that is operated by an employee and is propelled otherwise than by muscular power but does not include any vehicle designed for running on rails.

Highway motor vehicle operator

A motor vehicle operator who is not a bus operator or a city motor vehicle operator.

City motor vehicle operator

A motor vehicle operator who operates only within a 16 km radius of his or her home terminal and is not a bus operator. It includes any motor vehicle operator who is classified as a city motor vehicle operator in a collective agreement or is not classified in any such agreement but is considered to be a city motor vehicle operator according to the industry practice in the geographical area where he or she is employed.

Bus operator

A motor vehicle operator who operates a bus.

Non-driving personnel

An employee engaged in the trucking industry, including maintenance personnel, warehousemen and office staff, whose hours of work are not described in the Motor Vehicle Operators Hours of Work Regulations.

Shunt driver

A motor vehicle operator who works exclusively within the yard of the employer's terminal. A shunt driver does not meet the definition of city or highway driver.

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