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What’s a fair workweek?

Understanding the laws around the hours you work is essential to ensure you’re being treated fairly in the workplace. Many of us are well aware of the basic rules of overtime work and pay, but there are clear exceptions to these rules outlined in the Government of Alberta Employment Standards. Here are some basic things to understand about your workweek.

Basic Rules: Overtime in Alberta

Overtime pay is required when an employee works more than 8 hours a day or more than 44 hours a week. Overtime pay must be a minimum of 1.5 times the employee’s regular wage, unless an overtime agreement has been made between the employee and the employer that specifies otherwise. There are however, two major exceptions to these rules.

Exception 1 – Job Title

Depending on what you do, you may not qualify for overtime pay at all. The following is a list of job titles that do not qualify for overtime pay:

  • Managers, supervisors and those employed in a confidential capacity;
  • Farm workers;
  • Professionals, including agrologists, architects, certified or chartered accountants, chiropractors, dentists, denturists, engineers, information systems professionals, lawyers, students-at-law, optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists and veterinarians;
  • Salespersons of automobiles, trucks, buses, farm machinery, road construction equipment, heavy duty equipment, manufactured homes or residential homes;
  • Salespersons who solicit orders, principally outside of the employer’s place of business, who are fully or partly paid by commission (this does not apply to route salespersons);
  • Licensed salespersons of real estate and securities;
  • Licensed insurance salespersons who are paid entirely by commission income;
  • Salespersons who are at least 16 years old and are engaged in direct selling for licensed direct sellers;
  • Licensed land agents;
  • Extras in a film or video production;
  • Counsellors or instructors at an educational or recreational camp that is operated on a charitable or not-for-profit basis for children, persons with disabilities, or religious purposes; and
  • Domestic employees (these employees are exempt only from sections 16 and 17 of the Code concerning hours of work and notice of work times, but not from rest periods).

The following employees do not qualify for overtime pay based on a 44-hour workweek. However, these job titles do have their own requirements for overtime pay:

  • Ambulance services
  • Geophysical exploration
  • Irrigation districts
  • Logging and lumbering
  • Oil well servicing
  • Land surveying
  • Trucking
  • Field catering
  • Highway and railway construction and brush clearing
  • Nurseries
  • Road maintenance activities
  • Taxi cabs
  • Caregivers (home and residential)

Exception 2 – Compressed Work Week (CWW)

A CWW is a system that requires an employee to work increased daily hours for fewer days in the week. For example, instead of working 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, and employee may work 10 hours a day for 4 days a week. According to the Employment Standards Code, employers can choose to arrange a CWW for an employee, and approval for the employee is not required. If an employer wishes to arrange a CWW, however, the following qualifications must be met:

  • The CWW must be scheduled in advanced;
  • if the compressed work week is part of a cycle, the schedule must show all the work weeks that make up the cycle;
  • the maximum hours of work that an employee may be scheduled to work in a work day is 12 hours;
  • the maximum hours of work that an employee may be scheduled to work in a compressed workweek is 44 hours.

If you’re working in a CWW, overtime hours can still be worked, but not scheduled. Just like a regular workweek, in a CWW overtime pay is required if the employee works over 12 hours a day or over 44 hours in the week.

At Teamsters 987, we work tirelessly to protect our members from being overworked and undercompensated. As a Teamsters 987 member, your collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are designed to not only ensure that minimum employment standards are being met, but often your CBA will exceed Alberta Labour Standards requirements – another benefit to being a Teamsters 987 union member!

Not sure if you qualify for overtime or feel like your employer may be treating you unfairly? If you’re a Teamsters 987 member, we’re here to help you understand and protect your rights in the workplace. For more information about overtime work and pay, contact us.

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