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Weekly Hours and Overtime

What is the regular work week?

It's 8 hours a day, and 44 hours a week.

Are there limits to how long my boss can make me work?

The maximum is 12 hours a day and 44 hours a week unless an accident occurs requiring urgent work, unforseeable circumstances occur, or if the Director of Employment Standards issues a permit authorizing extended hours.

(Note: If you belong to a union, check your collective agreement. You might have better hours of work and overtime provisions than the minimum protections found in the law.)

Are there any variations to these hours of work?

Your boss can make you or let you work a compressed work week: fewer days a week but more than 8 hours a day. You won't get overtime until you go over the maximum 44 hours a week. For example, you could be required to work 11-hour shifts for four days and not receive overtime pay. But you still can't legally be forced to work more than 12 hours a day.

Am I entitled to a break?

Your boss has to give you a break of at least a ½ hour if you are scheduled to work more than 5 hours in a row. If it is not reasonable for an employee to take a break (only employee working at the time, etc), then the break must be paid. Alternate break times may be established through a Collective Agreement.  A break may be taken in ½ hour increments, two 15 minutes breaks or three 10 minute breaks.

Do I get paid during break time?

A break may be paid at the employers discretion, however, if the employer limits the activity of an employee while on a break, the break must be paid.

Do I get days off?

You're entitled to at least:

  • 1 day off each week worked
  • 2 days off in a row for every 2 consecutive weeks worked
  • 3 days off in a row for every 3 consecutive weeks worked
  • 4 days off in a row for every 4 consecutive weeks worked
  • at least 4 days off in a row after every 24 consecutive days you work

For more information regarding weekly hours of work and rest periods, please see the Alberta Hours of Work, Rest Periods and Days of Rest Factsheet.


Can I refuse to work overtime?

The law does not give workers the right to refuse overtime work.

Can I agree to not be paid overtime?

Employees and employers cannot make written or verbal agreements where the employee does not receive pay for overtime work.  Both the employee and the employer may be prosecuted if such an agreement is made and the minimum standards of the Employment Standards Code will be enforced.

How is overtime calculated?

Overtime hours start after you work 8 hours in a day, or 44 hours in a week. Overtime hours are calculated both on a daily and on a weekly basis.  In some cases, it may be calculated on a monthly basis (see below). The higher of the two numbers represents the overtime hours you worked in the week.

Overtime is at least 1.5 times your regular wage rate for any overtime hours worked unless you and your employer agree in writing to paid time off instead of overtime pay.  Overtime is calculated based on work week (midnight on Saturday to midnight the following Saturday or 7 consecutive days as established by the employer through a consistent practice) rather than pay period.

For employees who have no established rate of pay such as those paid on commission, piecework or similar, overtime is calculated based on minimum wage.  For employees paid salary and incentive pay, salary is used to calculate overtime pay unless the salary is less than minimum wage, in which case, minimum wage will be used to calculate overtime pay.

How does an overtime agreement work?

An overtime agreement is established in writing by a part-time or full-time employee and an employer allowing overtime hours to be banked at regular pay (instead of overtime pay) to be taken as vacation days in lieu of receiving overtime pay.  An overtime agreement may be between a single employee or a group of employees.  Where the majority of a group of employees agree to an overtime agreement, it will apply to all employees in that group.

Time off must be taken at a time when the employee could have worked.   If time off is not taken, employees must be paid at 1.5 times their regular wage for the overtime hours banked.

Are there any restrictions to paid time off?

Time off with regular pay must be taken and paid within three months of the end of the pay period in which it was earned unless otherwise stated in a collective agreement or the Director of Employment Standards issues a permit authorizing a longer period may be taken.

Are there any exceptions to overtime hours?

Yes, some jobs have a different overtime definition from the standard one, including

  • Nursery workers: More than 9 hours a day or 48 hours a week
  • Workers of irrigation districts (but not office employees): More than 9 hours a day or 54 hours a week (from April 1 to October 31)
  • Highway and railway construction, brush clearing: More than 10 hours a day or 44 hours a week
  • Truck drivers, bus drivers whose work takes them out of the same city: More than 10 hours a day or 50 hours a week
  • Ambulance attendants, taxi drivers: More than 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week
  • Logging, road maintenance, field catering, geophysical exploration, land surveying: More than 10 hours a day or 191 hours a month
  • Oilwell servicing: More than 12 hours a day or 191 hours a month.

For more information, please review the Alberta Overtime Hours and Overtime Pay Factsheet.

Are all workers covered by these rules?

No. Occupations exempt from hours of work and rest periods include:

  • Managers, supervisors and those employed in a confidential capacity
  • Professionals including information systems professionals, lawyers, certified or chartered accountants, veterinarians, podiastrists, pyschologists, engineers, agrologists, architects, chiropractors, dentists, denturists, and optometrists.
  • Licensed insurance salespersons who are paid entirely by commission
  • Farm workers
  • Extras in a film or video production
  • Residential and homecare caregivers and domestic employees (exempt from hours of work provisions, but not from rest periods)
  • Salespersons of automobiles, trucks, buses, farm machinery, road construction equipment, heavy duty equipment, manufactured homes or residential homes
  • Salespersons who solicit orders, principally outside of the employer’s place of business, who are fully or partly paid by commission (this does not apply to route salespersons)
  • Licensed land agents
  • Salespersons who are at least 16 years old and are engaged in direct selling for licensed direct sellers
  • Counsellors or instructors at an educational or recreational camp that is operated on a charitable or not-for-profit basis for children, persons with disabilities, or religious purposes

What if I'm still not sure which rules apply to me?

You can call the Alberta Employment Standards number at (780) 427-3731. For toll-free access in Alberta, call the RITE line at 310-0000, then dial (780) 427-3731. Hearing impaired with TDD/TDY units call 427-9999 in Edmonton. Other locations call 1-800-232-7215.

For more information, please visit Alberta Employment Standards.

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