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Weekly Hours and Overtime

What is the regular work week?

The standard work week is 44 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.)

Are there limits to the number of hours my boss can make me work?

The law says the maximum is 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. But it also says:
  • Your boss can make you work up to 13 hours in a day and up to 60 hours a week with your consent.
  • The Director of Employment Standards can approve a work week of longer than 60 hours, if you consent.

Under certain circumstances, you might also be required to work longer hours than the maximum or during times when you'd otherwise be off work:
  • Emergencies, unforeseen events and urgent repair work
  • Seasonal operations
  • Delivery of essential public services

What about days off?

You have to be given at least 24 hours off in a row every work week or at least 48 hours off in a row every two weeks. This means you could be required to work 12 straight days without a day off.

If you're a domestic worker, you're entitled to 2 free periods each week:
  • 1 period of 36 hours in a row
  • 1 period of 12 hours in a row

If you're a retail worker, you're entitled to:
  • 36 hour rest periods every seven (7) days

Are there any exceptions to hours of work?

Yes, garment workers making women's clothing can't be forced to work more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week, and between midnight and 6 a.m.

Am I entitled to a break?

Normally, you're entitled to a 1/2-hour unpaid break after five hours of work in a row. But your boss can ask you to agree to take two 15-minute breaks during this period instead.

Employers don't have to provide coffee breaks, but if they do the breaks must be paid and included in the number of hours worked. Employees who are required to remain at the workplace during a coffee break or other type of break must be paid for that time. If an employee is free to leave the workplace during the coffee break or other type of break, the employer doesn't have to pay for the time.

How is overtime calculated?

After working 44 hours in a week, you're entitled to at least one and a half times your regular wage rate unless you and your boss agree to paid time off instead of overtime. You have to be given the time off within 3 months of when you earned it, unless you agree to a 12-month period.

Can my employer average my daily hours over a week?

An employer and an employee can agree in writing to average the employee's hours of work over a specified period of two or more weeks for the purpose of calculating overtime pay. This means an employee would only qualify for overtime pay if the average hours worked per week during the specified period exceed 44 hours.

Can I refuse overtime?

Your employer cannot intimidate you, fire you, suspend you, reduce your pay, punish you in any way or threaten any of these actions because you:

  • refuse to work more than the maximum daily or weekly hours of work
  • refuse to sign an agreement to work more than the maximum daily or weekly hours of work
  • refuse to work more than the number of excess hours you agreed to work

Are all workers covered by these rules?

No. There is a long list of exceptions regarding when overtime is paid.

  • Road building (streets, highways, parking lots)
    After 55 hours a week
  • Road building (bridges, tunnels and retaining walls)
    After 50 hours a week
  • Hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant and tavern workers
    After 50 hours a week (if you work 24 weeks or less and get room and board)
  • Seasonal workers in jobs related to the distribution, canning, processing and packing of fruits and vegetables
    After 50 hours a week
  • Sewer and watermain construction
    After 50 hours a week
  • Local cartage
    After 50 hours a week
  • Highway transport
    After 60 hours a week
  • Residential care workers (for children or people with disabilities) in family-type residences where worker lives during work periods
    Must be paid not less than the regular rate for not more than three extra hours over 12 in a work day. Entitled to 36 hours of rest every week; and to equivalent time off or 1 ½ times regular rate for time worked during a free period at employer's request
  • Women's garment industry (if not a homeworker)
    Special overtime rate for more than 8 hours in a day, or for work on Saturday or Sunday
  • Women's garment industry (homeworker)
    Special rate after 40 hours a week
  • Many workers are excluded from all hours of work and overtime provisions, including: agricultural workers, homemakers, residential care workers, information technology professionals, workers in commercial fishing, commission salespeople who normally operate away from their employer's place of business, most people involved in farming and horticulture, Crown employees, high school students on approved work experience programs and police officers.
  • Some workers are excluded from all the provisions except meal breaks: firefighters; supervisors and managers; fishing and hunting guides; and residential superintendents, janitors and caretakers who live on site.
  • Construction workers, embalmers and funeral directors are entitled to meal breaks and overtime pay.
  • Landscape gardeners and those who install and maintain swimming pools only get daily/weekly periods of rest and meal breaks.
  • Students who supervise children, work at a camp for children or in a recreation program operated by a charitable organization, cab drivers, and most ambulance workers are excluded from overtime provisions.

For more information see the Ontario Hours of Work Factsheet.

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