Depending on which industry you work for, you will be covered under a particular labour act – whether it is legislation set out by a provincial jurisdiction or one that is dictated by the federal government. Most workers and employers fall under the employment acts set out by the ministry of labour in that particular province. However, federally-regulated jobs (such as those at banks, post offices, radio/TV) operate under federal labour standards. Interns, inmates and police officers are protected under yet a different set of labour laws. Do some research to see which category you fall under. You may want to check out this article for more.
One of the most popular areas of discussion when it comes to labour laws is the amount of hours that employees are required to work. An employee is required to work eight hours a day. However, there are different rules for different jobs when it comes to the weekly maximum. For example, under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), the maximum weekly is 48 hours. But under the Canada Labour Code, it is 40 hours per week instead.
If an employer would like employees to work more than the maximum hours set out by law, the workplace must submit an application to the Ministry of Labour requesting an exemption. The employer must prove either of two conditions: Exceptional circumstances or emergency work.
Some employers opt to “average” the hours of work if the nature of the job is either seasonal or difficult to regulate. This results in employees having no regularly scheduled hours or having regularly scheduled hours that vary from time to time. The averaging of hours is allowed under Canadian labour laws.
Under the Canada Labour Code, the hours of work and overtime provisions do not apply to all employees. According to the website for Canada’s Ministry of Human Resources, managers, superintendents and employees who carry out management functions are exempted. Architects, dentists, engineers, lawyers, and medical doctors are also excluded.
Special rules surrounding the hours of work have also been created for the following professions: Truck drivers, employees on ships, railway employees and commissions salespersons in the broadcasting industry.
Although many industries operate under a Monday-Friday/9-5 work week, this type of schedule is not applicable to all industries. This is when the concept of modified work schedules come into play. Under Canadian labour laws, employers are allowed to grant employees compressed work weeks or flexible hours of work. An example of a compressed work week is an employee who works 10 hours per day, 4 days a week.
If you feel your workplace may be in violation of rules pertaining to work hours, do some research by checking out the website for the Ministry of Labour. There are also reputable legal firms in Canada that deal specifically with labour laws. Don’t hesitate to reach out for advice if you feel the rights of you and your fellow workers may be violated at any time.