What is overtime pay? How does it work?

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Sometimes a job gets so busy, your boss may ask you to work more hours than normal.  Often these extra hours are paid at a higher rate called “overtime.” Overtime pay can be a great way to earn more money but there are rules for who gets overtime and how much they have to work to get it.

What is overtime pay?

Who can get overtime pay?

In Alberta, most employees who work more than 8 hours in a day or 44 hours in a week qualify for overtime pay.

However, some jobs have different overtime rules, such as taxi drivers and ambulance attendants. They only get overtime pay after more than 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week.

Finally, some jobs aren’t paid overtime hours at all:

  • managers and supervisors
  • certain salespeople
  • domestic employees
  • farm workers
  • professionals (ex. lawyers and engineers)

Learn more on Alberta’s Employment Standards website. If you’re not sure where your job fits, talk to your supervisor.

Employers must compensate eligible workers with overtime pay or paid time off.

Overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times higher than a worker’s regular hourly wage. This means that someone who earns $15/hour would earn $22.50 for each hour of overtime.

Your pay statement will show your overtime hours and rate.

An employer may decide to compensate employees for overtime with paid time off instead of overtime pay. The employer and employees must agree to paid time off in a written “overtime agreement.”

One hour of overtime must equal a minimum of 1.5 hours of paid time off. For example, someone who has worked one hour of overtime could arrange with their supervisor to leave 1.5 hours early from one of their regular shifts. This time off is paid at their regular rate.

Workers can save up or “bank” their overtime hours but must use this paid time off within six months.

Know Your Rights

Your employer has to follow human rights and occupational health and safety rules if they ask you to work overtime. Make sure you can continue working safely. Alberta law entitles employees to certain minimum rest periods and limits the workday for most jobs to a maximum of 12 hours.

This is the daily maximum even in workplaces with an “hours-of-work averaging agreement” in which the employer calculates overtime by averaging an employee’s hours of work over a period of one to 12 weeks. These agreements may include compressed work week schedules in which employees typically work more than eight hours a day at their regular wage but for fewer days each week.

There are different rules for how long teens can work. Youth ages 12 to 14 cannot work more than eight hours on a non-school day or more than two hours on a school day.

If you have questions about overtime, call Alberta’s Employment Standards team at 1-877-427-3731 or view their overtime fact sheet here. The brochure “Employment Law Protects Workers” includes sample overtime calculations.

Another helpful resource is The Center for Public Legal Education Alberta, which answers common questions about overtime here.

Finally, the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society provides information on workplace rights in its Employment Skills Training and Pre-and-Post Canadian Workplace Training programs. Click here to learn more. We look forward to meeting you!

CIES Guides are a volunteer-led project made possible through contributions from the community.

Thanks to Jessica Whiteside for help with this guide. If you want to suggest a correction to this guide, or want to submit one of your own, please contact us.

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