The Overtime Trap – Part I

The Employment Standards Act (British Columbia) requires that an employer pay an employee overtime wages if it “requires, or directly or indirectly allows, the employee to work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.” An employee who can provide some evidence of starting early, staying late, working through lunch or doing work on the BlackBerry after hours will get overtime pay even if the employer never asked for the extra work to be done.

The general overtime rules do not apply to certain types of employees (more about that in a future blog), but there is no simple distinction between “salaried” or “hourly”, or “exempt” and “non-exempt” employees.

To minimize your risk and cost:

  • publish an overtime policy:
  • setting the scope and nature of permissible overtime work;
  • requiring prior written authorization;
  • requiring overtime hours to be reported each pay period;
  • requiring manager approval before overtime is paid; and
  • use an averaging agreement where appropriate; and
  • if the normal hours of work are less than 40 per week, it is possible to pay for the extra hours, up to 40, at straight time.

Employment Standards extra hours overtime regular work day work hours



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