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British Columbia

Weekly Hours and Overtime


What is the regular work week?

It's 8 hours a day, and 40 hours a week.

(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.)

MINIMUM DAILY PAY

  • An employee reporting for work who is scheduled for 8 hours or less must be paid for at least 2 hours even if the employee works less than 2 hours.
  • An employee who reports to work who is scheduled for more than 8 hours must be paid for at least 4 hours even if the employee works less than 4 hours. 
  • If work stops for a reason completely beyond the employer’s control, the employee must be paid for 2 hours or the actual time worked, whichever is greater.
  • An employee who reports to work but is unfit for work only has to be paid for time actually worked, even if it is less than 2 hours.
  • An employee who is not in compliance with the Workers Compensation Act, or the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, only has to be paid for time actually worked, even if it is less than 2 hours.


BREAKS & REST PERIODS

Am I entitled to a break?

Your boss has to give you an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes after you work 5 hours in a row. If you're required to be available for work during your meal break, the meal break must be a paid break. Employers are not required to provide coffee breaks.

Do I get a rest period?

You're entitled to at least eight hours off between shifts unless required to work because of an emergency or 32 hours in a row free from work each week. If you work during this period, you must get time-and-a-half for all hours worked. This means that an employee who works seven days in a week must be paid time-and-a-half for one of the days, even if the employee worked less than 40 hours in total. The employer may pay time-and-a-half on the day with the least number of hours.

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

The law says you can't be forced or allowed to work excessive hours that adversely affect your health. But it doesn't define "excessive."


OVERTIME

Can I refuse to work overtime?

No. The law does not give workers this right.

How is overtime calculated?

If you work more than 8 hours in a day, you get one and a half times your regular wages for the next 4 hours worked, and double time for anything over 12 hours of work.

If you work more than 40 hours in a week, you get one and a half times your regular wages for the next 8 hours, and double time for all hours over 48. The first 8 hours worked on each day are used to calculate total hours for weekly overtime.

What is a time bank?

At an employee’s written request, an employer may establish a time bank. Overtime hours are credited to the time bank instead of being paid in the pay period in which they are earned.

An employee may ask an employer at any time to pay out all or part of the wages credited to the bank. The employee may also request time off with pay for some mutually agreed period, or request in writing that the bank be closed. Upon receiving an employee’s request to close the bank, the employer must pay the outstanding balance to the employee.

An employer may close an employee’s time bank after giving the employee one month’s written notice.

When an employer closes an employee’s time bank, the employer must, within six months, either:

  • pay the employee all of the overtime wages credited to the time bank
  • allow the employee to use the credited overtime wages to take time off with pay
  • pay the employee for part of the wages credited to the time bank and allow the employee to use the remainder of the credited overtime wages to take time off with pay

Overtime must be used or paid out at the rate it was earned. For example, an employee who banks two hours at time-and-a-half is entitled to three hours off or three hours’ pay.

Are there any exceptions to overtime wage calculations aside from workers on flexible schedules?

  • Taxi drivers: At least double regular wages if more than 120 hours are worked over 2 weeks.
  • Long-distance truck drivers: Double regular wages if more than 60 hours are worked in a week.
  • Some oil and gas field workers in well drilling and servicing: One and a half times regular wages for more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week; and double for more than 12 hours a day and 80 hours a week.
  • Loggers in the interior: One and a half times regular wages for more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. Note: there's a special provision for loggers in the Prince George forest region.
  • High tech company workers (non-professional): One and a half times regular wages for more than 12 hours in a day or 80 hours in 2 weeks.
  • Silviculture workers: One and a half times regular wages for more than 8 hours a day and double time for more than 12 hours a day.
  • Farm workers: Double regular wages if allowed or forced by the employer to work more than 120 hours in two weeks.

Are all workers covered by hours of work and overtime laws?

No. There is a long list of fully excluded workers–from high school students who are in work study, work experience or occupational study classes or employed at their school, to live-in home support workers, police officers, residential care workers and professionals, In addition, many workers are covered only partially by these laws, such as taxi drivers, fishers, long distance truck drivers, forest fire fighters, bus operators, truck drivers and miners.

Domestic workers are covered by hours of work and overtime.

What about unionized workers?

Unionized workers get the overtime rate provided by their collective agreement.

For more information, please visit BC Hours of Work and Overtime Factsheet.


AVERAGING AGREEMENTS

Can an employer average working hours?

Employers and employees can agree to a work schedule under the 40-hour work week umbrella that averages hours over one, two, three or four weeks. The hours scheduled must not average more than 40 per week over the period of the agreement. For example, employees may agree to work up to 12 hours in a day, averaging 40 hours in a week, without being paid overtime.

Rules for Averaging Agreements

In order to be valid, an averaging agreement must:

  • be in writing
  • specify the number of weeks (one to four) over which hours will be averaged
  • specify the work schedule for each day covered by the agreement
  • specify the number of times the agreement may be repeated
  • specify a start date and an end date for the agreement
  • be signed by the employer and the employee before the start date
  • employee must receive a copy of the agreement before the agreement takes effect

Can I still be paid overtime on an averaging agreement?

Yes. Any hours exceeding the averaging agreement specifications over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours per week must be paid at a rate of time-and-a-half. Any hours worked over 12 hours in a day must be paid at double-time. Please see chart below for examples of overtime rates.

For more information, please visit the Averaging Agreements Factsheet.

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

Contact the Employment Standards Branch by calling the toll free Information Line at 1-800-663-3316 or (250) 612-4100 in the Prince George area.

http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb/

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