Employment Standards

Hours of Work & Rest Periods

British Columbia

An employee is entitled to be paid at overtime rates if he/she works more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in one week, unless an exception or an averaging agreement applies (ESA, s. 35, 37, 40; ES Regulation). Part 4 of the ESA sets out overtime rates and entitlements. See Overtime & Overtime Pay.

An employer must ensure that no employee works more than five consecutive hours without a half-hour meal break (s 32).  Such eating periods are not generally included in hours of work. If the employer requires an employee to work or be available for work during a meal break, the meal break must be counted as time worked (ESA, s. 32(2)). There is no entitlement to coffee breaks.

Employees are also entitled to at least 32 consecutive hours free from work each week or 1.5 pay for any time worked during that period, and eight hours free from work between shifts, except in the case of an emergency (s 36).

An employee who refuses to work on a given day of the week for religious reasons, or other reasons based on grounds protected by human rights legislation, may be protected by human rights legislation from retaliation by the employer.

Federal

A federal employee is entitled to be paid at overtime rates if he/she works more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in one week, unless an exception, modified work schedule, or an averaging agreement applies (Canada Labour Code, s. 169, 174). Under the CLC, standard hours are also referred to as “working hours”, which are 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. At least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay must be paid for hours worked in excess of standard hours. Unlike provincially regulated employees, and subject to some exceptions, hours of work for federal employees are not to exceed a maximum “ceiling” of 48 hours per week, even after the payment of overtime rates (Canada Labour Code, s. 171). Certain provisions in the CLC permit flexibility in applying these standards. Special regulations also cover certain classes of workers in specific industries, such as city and highway transport drivers. Averaging agreements are permitted (Canada Labour Code, s. 169(2), 169(2.1), Canada Labour Standards Regulation, s. 6, 9, 24(2)(j)).

Federal legislation does not provide for meal breaks, nor is there a requirement for time off between shifts. Employees are entitled to one day off from work each week (Sunday, where possible).

An employee who refuses to work on a given day of the week for religious reasons may be protected by human rights legislation from retaliation by the employer.

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