Hours of Work
and job categories are exempt from the hours of work rules set out in the Employment
Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
Please refer to the Special
Rule Tool for more information.
Daily and Weekly Limits on Hours of Work
The maximum number of hours most employees can
be required to work in
a day is eight hours or the
number of hours in an established regular workday, if it is longer than
eight hours. The only way the daily maximum can be exceeded is by written
The maximum number of hours most employees can
be required to work in
a week is 48 hours.
The weekly maximum can be exceeded by written agreement
and approval of the Director of Employment Standards. However, the ESA provides
a limited exception where an application for approval is pending. If,
after 30 days after serving an application for excess hours on the
Director, the employer has not received an approval or notice of refusal,
the employer may require employees to start working more than 48 hours as
long as certain conditions are met including, the employee does not work
more than 60 hours in a work week or the number of hours the employee
agreed to in writing, whichever is less.
An agreement between an employee and an employer to work additional daily
or weekly hours, or an approval from the Director of Employment Standards
for excess weekly hours, does not relieve an employer from the requirement
to pay overtime.
See also: What
Counts as Work Time | Daily
and Weekly Hours of Work.
Written Agreement Requirements for Exceeding Limits on Hours of
An employer and an employee can agree in
writing that the employee will work more
eight hours a day;
his or her established regular
workday--if it is longer than eight
48 hours a week.
These agreements are valid only if, prior to
making the agreement, the employer gives the employee theInformation
Sheet for Employees About Hours of Work and Overtime Pay prepared
by the Director of Employment Standards that describes the hours of work
and overtime rules in the ESA.
In order to be valid, the agreement must also include a statement in which
the employee acknowledges receipt of the Information Sheet.
In most cases, an employee can cancel an
agreement to work more hours by giving the employer two weeks' written notice
and an employer can cancel the agreement by providing reasonable notice.
Once the agreement is revoked an employee is not permitted to work excess
daily or weekly hours even if the employer has an approval from the
Director of Employment Standards for excess weekly hours.
Director Approval Required to Exceed Weekly Limits on Hours of
Employers who would like to make an application
for approval for excess weekly hours are required to make their
application in a form provided by the Ministry of Labour. An employer who
for excess weekly hours must
post a copy of the application in their workplace on the day the
application is submitted in accordance with the ESA where
it is likely to come to the attention of the employee(s) identified in the
application. When the approval or a notice of refusal of the application
is received, this must be posted in place of the application.
Hours Free from Work
Employees are entitled to a certain number of hours free from having to
In most cases, an employee must receive at least 11 consecutive hours off
work each day. Generally, an employee and an employer cannot agree to less
than 11 consecutive hours off work each day. The daily rest requirement
applies even if:
the employer and the employee have agreed in writing that the
employee's hours of work will exceed the daily limit.
the employer and employee have agreed in writing that the employee's
hours of work will exceed the weekly limit and the employer has
received an approval from the Director of Employment Standards to
exceed weekly limits on hours of work.
This rule does not apply to employees who are on call and called in to
work during a period when they would not normally be working.
This requirement cannot be altered by a written agreement between the
employer and employee.
See also: Daily
Rest: 11 Hour Rule.
Employees must receive at least eight hours
off work between shifts.
This does not apply if the total time worked on both shifts is not more
than 13 hours.
An employee and employer can also agree in
writing that the employee will receive
less than eight hours off work between shifts.
See also: Rest
Mabel works in a restaurant. She is on split shifts, working from 6 a.m.
to 11 a.m. and then from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The total time of her two shifts
is 10 hours. Mabel does not have to have eight hours off between the split
shifts, because the hours she worked do not exceed 13 hours.
Weekly or Bi-Weekly
Employees must receive at least:
24 consecutive hours off work in each
48 consecutive hours off work in every
period of two consecutive work weeks.
See also: Weekly
or Biweekly Free Time.
In exceptional circumstances, and only
so far as is necessary to avoid serious
the ordinary working of the employer's establishment or operations,
an employer can require an
employee to work:
more than the normal limit of eight hours a
day, or the established regular work day if that is longer;
more than the 48 hours per week (or the greater number of weekly hours
agreed to and which are the subject of an approval from the Director
of Employment Standards);
during a required period free from work
Free From Work).
Exceptional circumstances exist when:
there is an emergency;
something unforeseen occurs that interrupts
the continued delivery of essential public services,regardless
of who delivers these services (for
example, hospital, public transit or firefighting services, even if
the employee only indirectly supports these services, such as an
employee of a company that is contracted to prepare and deliver
patient meals to a hospital);
something unforeseen occurs that would interrupt continuous processes;
something unforeseen occurs that would interrupt seasonal operations
(that is, operations that are limited to or dependent on specific
conditions or events--such as winter ski operations);
it is necessary to carry out urgent repair work to the employer's
plant or equipment.
Here are some examples:
natural disasters (very extreme weather);
major equipment failures;
fire and floods;
an accident or breakdown in machinery that would prevent others in
the workplace from doing their jobs (for example, the shutdown of
an assembly line in a manufacturing plant).
Here are examples of situations that do not fall under the exceptional
when rush orders are being filled;
during inventory taking;
when an employee does not show up for work;
when poor weather slows shipping or receiving;
during seasonal busy periods (such as Christmas);
during routine or scheduled maintenance.
Eating Periods and Breaks
Employers are required to provide eating periods to employees, but they
are not required to provide other types of breaks.
An employee must not work for more than five
hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period (meal break) free
from work. However, if the employer and employee agree, the eating period
can be split into two eating periods within every
five consecutive hours. Together these must total at least 30 minutes.
This agreement can be oral or in writing.
Meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee's employment contract requires
payment. Even if the employer pays for meal breaks, the employee must be
free from work in order for the time to be considered a meal break.
See also: Eating
Meal breaks, whether paid or unpaid, are not considered hours of
work, and are not counted toward overtime.
Coffee Breaks and Breaks Other Than Eating Periods
Employers are required to provide employees with eating periods as
described above. Employers do not have to give employees “coffee”
breaks or any other kind of break.
Employees who are required to remain at the workplace during a coffee
break or breaks other than eating periods must be paid at least the
minimum wage for that time. If an employee is free to leave the workplace,
the employer does not have to pay for the time.
The ESA does
not put restrictions on the timing of an employee's shift other than the
requirements for daily rest and rest between shifts described earlier in
this chapter. In addition the ESA does
not require an employer to provide transportation to or from work if an
employee works late, although individual contracts of employment or a
collective agreement may require that transportation be provided.