Charles Strachey column: Are employers allowed to make overtime manadory?

I work for a company that operates round-the-clock five days a week.

Dear Working Wise: I work for a company that operates round-the-clock five days a week. My employer forces us to work 12-hour shifts whenever someone is on holidays. Are employers allowed to make overtime mandatory? Signed Overwhelmed by Overtime

Dear Overwhelmed:

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code does not give employees the right to refuse overtime — few provinces do — but employers have some obligations to ensure they are abiding by Human Rights legislation and Occupational Health and Safety requirements. For example if an employee is unable to work overtime due to child-care issues, the employer must take that into consideration. At times, overtime is required to meet operational needs but there are limits to how much overtime your employer can ask you to work and how much notice your employer must give you.

Most Albertans can not be asked to work more than 12 hours in a single day, unless an unforeseeable emergency occurs.

The 12-hour limit generally applies to all employees in Alberta except for occupations like managers, professionals, licensed salespersons, land agents, residential and homecare caregivers, and domestic employees.

Most employees most are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours a day or 44 hours a week: whichever is greater. Employees and employers may agree to bank overtime hours in an overtime agreement. Otherwise, overtime hours must be paid at the rate of at least one and half times the employee’s regular wage rate.

Employees are entitled to a minimum 30 minutes of rest — paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion — during a shift that lasts more than five consecutive hours.

These are the minimum standards and many employers voluntarily provide staff with additional breaks or notice when overtime is expected.

The only other issue related to your overtime concern is fatigue and worker safety.

Workplace fatigue is addressed by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code. Employers are required to conduct workplace hazard assessments, a responsibility that includes monitoring worker fatigue.

In cases where a worker’s fatigue has become a worksite hazard, the employer must put controls in place to protect the worker such as allowing the fatigued worker to rest and take more time off between overtime shifts.

Are you unsatisfied with the current overtime arrangement in your workplace? Try discussing your concerns with your supervisor/manager. Brainstorm some solutions to the problem beforehand. You are much more likely to be successful if you can bring solutions that satisfy your needs and your employer’s needs — instead of just concerns.

For more information on workplace fatigue, visit work.alberta.ca/ohs and check out the fact sheet called Fatigue and Safety at the Workplace or call Occupational Health and Safety toll-free at 1-866-415-8690.

For more information on overtime, hours of work, overtime agreements and occupations exempted from Alberta’s Employment Standards, visit work.alberta.ca/es. You can also call and speak to an Employment Standards staff person toll-free at: 1-877-427-3731.

Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read