Hours of Work

If you work in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards that an employer must comply with. If the employer fails to do so, you can file a claim on line and without cost with the Ministry of Labour against the company. If you are still working for the company, you may be able to request the Ministry not to disclose your name. If you are currently not working for the employer, it should not matter if the employer knows who you are? Some standards are so unique that they cannot be investigated without identifying you. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights. If the employer takes any action against you, the officer is empowered to impose additional penalties on the employer.
 
If you have a collective agreement at the workplace, it is assumed your agreement would be better than the minimum standards required under the Act and thus does not apply to you. You are expected to deal with your union to resolve any difficulty you may have.
 
There are times when you or the employer may disagree with the officer’s decision, if so, both parties have a right to appeal the officer’s decision to the Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of receipt of officer’s decision. It does not cost the employee any money but the employer may be required to pay the money to the Ministry if money is found to be owing. The Ministry distributes the money in accordance with the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
 
If an appeal is requested, it is important that the employee attends the hearing and gives evidence in support of his or her position. If the employee fails to do so, the referee may accept the employer’s evidence and render his or her decision based on that evidence.
 
The maximum number of hours an employee is required to work on a daily basis is 8 and on weekly basis is 48 unless there is a written agreement to work longer than the maximum and the Ministry approves it. No employer can ask the employee to work longer than sixty hours/week unless the Ministry permits it. The employer is required to pay overtime for any hours over 44. Before the employee works longer than the maximum, the employer is required to provide information sheet prepared by the Ministry for hours of work and overtime pay. If no such information sheet is provided, the written agreement is not valid.
 
Both parties are allowed to cancel the written agreement to work longer than the maximum allowed if the employee gives two weeks notice and the employer gives reasonable notice but once the agreement is cancelled, the parties cannot revive the previous agreement.
 
The employer must give at least 11 consecutive hours free of work between shifts and the parties are not allowed to violate this requirement. In other words the employee cannot be required to work more than 13 hours on a daily basis.
 
The employer must give 24 consecutive hours on a weekly basis or 48 consecutive hours off on a bi-weekly basis if hours are calculated on a bi-weekly basis. These requirements do not apply if exceptional circumstances exist such as:
 
                   Natural Disasters (very extreme weather);
·                  Major Equipment failures;
·                  Fire and Floods;
·                  An accident or breakdown in Machinery that would prevent others from doing their job
 
The employer is required to provide half an hour every five hours free from work for eating purposes. The employer is not required to provide any other free time and does not have to pay for the time off but may pay, however, the parties can agree to a different arrangement as long as the employee is given half hour time off every five hours. This time off is not counted when calculating hours worked for overtime.
 
There is no special requirement from the employer if the employee works night shift. That is, the employer need not provide transportation to or from work if the employee works late unless the contract of employment requires it to do so.
             
This information is only provided to guide you about your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and should not be considered as a legal advice.

This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at esaconsulting@hotmail.com

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.       

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