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

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP execute search warrant

Heavy police presence on Nash Street

Health care coalition calls on government for pharmacare funding in next budget

OTTAWA — A coalition of 150 health care organizations and non-profits is… Continue reading

Telus and affiliates tell customers they’ve already met Liberal rate-cut pledge

OTTAWA — One of Canada’s major mobile service providers appears to have… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 6 A Perogie Supper is being held Thursday, Feb. 6 from… Continue reading

Reader’s opinion: Here’s how Premier Kenney can build a stronger Alberta

Apparently, the UPC government has decided that most seniors should pay more… Continue reading

Canadian snowboarder Blouin wins World Cup gold in women’s slopestyle

CALGARY — Laurie Blouin couldn’t wipe the smile off her face after… Continue reading

Alberta skip Laura Walker’s change of heart gets her to first Hearts

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Laura Walker wasn’t going to curl with a… Continue reading

Catherine Reitman says there’s a ‘real hunger’ for shows like ‘Workin’ Moms’

TORONTO — Some six years ago, when Catherine Reitman was creating her… Continue reading

Museum’s Rembrandt knockoff turns out to be the real thing

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Thanks to modern technology and some expert detective work,… Continue reading

Woman loses 50 pairs of shoes after boyfriend accidentally donates them to thrift store

Cassandra Converse can’t wait to go shoe shopping. Last month, Converse’s boyfriend… Continue reading

RDC Queens fall in double OT to MacEwan University Griffins

Griffins 4 Queens 3 (2OT) The RDC Queens managed to salvage a… Continue reading

Most Read