Overtime laws involve complexities that, if missed, can result
in large claims against employers. This article will provide a
reminder of BC's overtime laws and highlight some tips and
traps for employers to assist in navigating this field.
What are the requirements for overtime pay or
Employees are entitled to be paid time and a half for any hours
worked over 8 hours per day and over 40 hours per week. Employees
are entitled to be paid double time for any hours worked over 12
hours per day.
The obligation to pay overtime arises whether the employer
directly requires overtime work or indirectly permits overtime. If
an employer is aware that an employee is working overtime and takes
no action to stop the overtime work then, if the employee later
files a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch (the
"Branch"), the employee will likely be owed overtime pay.
Employers should have a specific system to authorize and record
overtime. Employment agreements that outline the requirements to
obtain overtime approval are one tool employers can use to outline,
and confirm that employees are aware of, the system to authorize
"Banking" overtime hours, so that an employee can take
time off at a later date instead of receiving pay, is popular with
a number of employers and employees. If an employer wants to
provide employees with time off instead of overtime pay the
following requirements of the Employment Standards Act (the
"Act") must be met:
There must be a written request from the employee to use such a
The wages credited to the time bank must be credited at the
proper overtime rate.
The employer must:
provide the wages in the time bank on an employee's request
to be paid what has accumulated in the time bank
provide time off with pay at a time agreed by the employer and
close the time bank on the employee's request; and if the
employee is dismissed before any of the above items occur, pay out
the amount in the time bank to the employee at the time of
What records of overtime work need to be kept?
Records of an employee's hours of work, including records of
any overtime hours, must be kept by employers. Given this
requirement, in the event of a complaint about overtime hours by an
employee, the onus is on the employer to produce proper
The Act also requires that an employee's pay record (for
each pay period) show the hours worked by an employee, any hours
worked at the overtime wage rate, the employee's usual wage
rate and the employee's overtime wage rate.
Who is exempt from overtime?
"Managers" are exempt from receiving overtime pay. A
"manager" is defined in the Employment Standards
Regulation as a person working in an "executive capacity"
or a person who supervises or directs "human or other
resources". In the event of a dispute, the Branch will
determine whether or not a person is a "manager". An
employee's title will not be determinative, rather, the
employee's day to day tasks will be reviewed.
The remaining exemptions from overtime relate to specific
industries or occupations. Some of these industries and occupations
are exempt only from the overtime provisions of the Act (e.g.
fishing and hunting guides, teachers, police officers and
firefighters) while others, typically falling into the category of
self-regulated professions (e.g. architects, accountants, and
dentists), are not subject to any of the Act's provisions.
A common misconception is that people who are paid a salary are
exempt from receiving overtime, however, the manner of pay is
irrelevant to whether an employee is entitled to overtime pay.
Salaried employees remain entitled to receive overtime pay unless
another exemption in the Act applies to their employment.
Where can overtime claims be made and what is the time limit
for bringing a complaint?
In BC the Branch is responsible for enforcing the minimum
employment standards which are set out in the Act. Overtime rules
are part of the Act, therefore, they fall within the Branch's
jurisdiction. The courts are not the proper forum for overtime
claims in BC. Generally a failure to comply with the Act's
standards is brought to the attention of the Branch through a
complaint filed by an employee.
If an employee pursues a complaint with the Branch, the employee
has six months from their last day of employment to file a
complaint. The Branch will only consider a remedy for an employee
going back six months prior to the date of the complaint or the
date of dismissal.
Minimize the Risk
Ensuring that a system to authorize overtime is created,
published and followed, along with keeping detailed records of
hours worked, can minimize the risk for an employer of facing an
overtime claim. These tips, while not a comprehensive guide to
overtime, can help address some common problems in overtime
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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