The maximum number of hours an employee may work in a day for one employer is:
8 hours (or if the employer has established a regular work day of more than eight hours for the employee, the number of hours in the regular work day); or
8+ hours, subject to electronic/written agreements
º Agreement must exactly state how many hours over 8 in a day the employee will be permitted to work, and the employee may not exceed these hours.
Maximum Weekly Limit
The maximum number of hours an employee may work in a week for one employer is:
48 hours; or
48+ hours, subject to electronic/written agreements
º Agreement must exactly state how many hours over 48 in a week the employee will be permitted to work, and the employee may not exceed these hours.
NOTE: Overtime still must be paid.
Requirements for a valid agreement:
Employer provides an information sheet and
Agreement must include a sentence stating that the employee has reviewed the information sheet
information sheet can be found here:
Cancelling the Agreement
The employee may cancel the agreement by providing the employer with 2 weeks’ notice in writing/electronically. The
employer may cancel the agreement by providing reasonable notice. Once cancelled, no working excess daily/weekly hours is permitted.
NOTE: Once the agreement is cancelled the employee cannot work the excess hours.
What Counts as “Work Time”?
When an employee is doing his or her job, and they are required to be at the workplace. This may or
may not include travel time.
What Does Not Count as “Work Time”?
Eating periods (i.e., lunch);
Scheduled sleeping periods (i.e., if an employer is required to provide a place to sleep, this does
not count as work time); and
Private affairs or pursuits (personal phone calls, checking personal e-mails, texting, etc.)
Travel Time vs Commute Time
“Commute time” is not work time.
“Travel time” can be work time:
Driving employer’s vehicle to work;
Transporting supplies/employees; or
Changing work locations.
If you require an employee to take training before working, or the law says the employee must have mandatory training, the time spent training does count as work time. Meaning, this time must be paid.
If an employee wants a promotion and must take special training to qualify for the promotion, this time does not count as work time and can be unpaid.
An employer must provide the employee with at least 11 consecutive hours “off work”. An employer
cannot contract this out. NOTE: This is not applicable to “on call” employees.
An employer and employee can make an agreement, electronically or in writing, for less than 8
hours off work between shifts. This limitation does not apply if the total time an employee works on
both shifts is 13 hours or less.
Natalie works in a restaurant. She is on split shifts, working from 6 a.m. (before noon) to 11 a.m.
(before midday) and then from 2 p.m. (after midday) to 7 p.m. (after midday) The total time of her two
shifts is 10 hours.
Natalie does not need eight hours off between the split shifts, because the hours
she worked do not exceed 13 hours.
An employee must receive at least:
24 consecutive hours off work in each work week; or
48 consecutive hours off work in every period of two consecutive work weeks.
When the employer is experiencing “exceptional circumstances” it can compel an employee to work
in excess of:
8 hours+ day;
48 hours+ week; or
During required “free from work” period.
What are “Exceptional Circumstances?”
Deal with an emergency (natural disaster, fire/flood, accident etc.);
Perform urgent repair work to plan/equipment;
To address an unexpected interruption and in doing so ensure continuous processes or
seasonal operations continue; or
Ensure continued delivery of public services.
What are NOT “Exceptional Circumstances”
Rush orders need to be filled;
Another employee is absent and the employer must fill their vacancy or be inconvenienced;
This guide should not be used as or considered legal advice. You may have greater rights under an employment contract, collective agreement, or other legislation. This Tool Kit is a source of information about key sections of the ESA that affect our members the most. It is meant to assist you, but is not as detailed as the ESA legislation. If you have questions or concerns regarding the rights and/or obligations of your employees or employers, please consult with a labour lawyer.
Contact David Black, Director, Government Relations & Public Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-665-4232 ext. 297.