Firefighters - Employment standards exceptions

There are special provisions to the rules outlined in the Employment Standards Code for firefighters.

The legislation on this page comes into effect on January 1, 2018

For information on Employment Standards legislation that is in force until December 31, 2017, go to http://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards.html

Basic rules

  • Employment Standards only apply to firefighters who are employed by a municipality or Metis settlement.
  • The standard overtime rule of hours worked in excess of 8 hours a day or 44 hours a week, whichever is greater, doesn’t apply to firefighter employees.
  • The requirement to confine an employee’s hours of work within a period of 12 consecutive hours in a work day doesn’t apply to firefighters.

Who’s considered a firefighter employee?

A firefighter for the purpose of the provision is:

  • employed by a municipality or Métis settlement in its fire service
  • assigned to active duty with respect to:
    • fire protection
    • fire prevention
    • rescue or related emergency medical services

The provision does not apply to the following:

  • volunteer firefighters
  • fire chiefs and deputy fire chiefs
  • managers
  • non-firefighting office and administrative personnel
  • firefighters employed by a private company and not a municipality or Métis settlement
  • firefighters who work in the provincial forest fire prevention services

Hours of work and pay

The standard overtime rule of hours worked in excess of 8 hours a day or 44 hours a week, whichever is greater, doesn’t apply to firefighter employees.

Exceptions to the minimum standards for regular and overtime hours

Employees must receive overtime:

  • for whichever is greater for hours worked in excess of:
    • the firefighter’s regularly scheduled work week, or
    • 44 hours per week for hours averaged over a firefighter’s work cycle
  • any overtime requirements identified in an employment contract or collective agreement
  • at a rate of at least 1.5 x the regular rate of pay for all overtime hours worked

Example 1
A firefighter works a regularly scheduled work week of 48 hours.

  • Hours worked is 52
  • Hours exceed the 48 hour regular schedule by 4 hours
  • The employee is owed 4 hours of overtime

Example 2
A firefighter works a 6-week cycle.

  • Total hours worked and averaged over 6 weeks = 45 hours a week
  • Hours exceed the 44 hour weekly average by 1 hour a week
  • The employee is owed 6 hours of overtime (1 hour x 6 weeks)

Exceptions to the minimum standards for hours of work

The requirement to confine an employee’s hours of work within a period of 12 consecutive hours in a work day doesn’t apply to firefighters.

The maximum daily hours of work that a firefighter may be scheduled to work is 24 hours, unless there’s an emergency or unforeseen or unpreventable circumstance.

Exceptions to the minimum standards for notice of shift changes

Employers aren’t required to:

  • notify employees when work starts and ends
  • provide 24 hours’ written notice to have an employee change from one shift to another
  • provide 8 hours of rest between shifts

Exceptions to the minimum standards for averaging agreements

Firefighters and their employers are exempt from the provisions dealing with an averaging agreement.

Rest periods

A firefighter who’s been on duty for 24 hours, may not be scheduled to begin another shift within the 24-hour period immediately following the scheduled ending of that shift, unless there’s an emergency or unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances requiring the firefighter’s work.

While these employees aren’t restricted by the hours within which they may work, the following should be considered:

  • The employer and employee must comply with safe work practices in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and OHS Code.
  • Under OHS legislation, an employer must ensure the health and safety of its workers. This includes monitoring hours of work if extended hours of work can affect the health and safety of a worker or their co-workers.
  • Workers have a right and a responsibility to refuse work if it appears unsafe.
  • For information about fatigue and safety, please see the Workplace Health and Safety Bulletin, Fatigue and Safety at the Workplace. A copy of this publication can also be obtained from any OHS office in Alberta. To find an office near you, please phone the OHS Contact Centre toll-free at 1-866-415-8690.

Employees are not exempt from rest periods and days of rest and must receive:

  • at least a 30 minute break for each 5-hour period worked
    • See Daily rest periods for more information.
  • at least one day of rest each week
    • See Days of rest for more information.

What additional Employment Standards apply?

In addition to the special provisions outlined above, all other minimum standards for employment apply to firefighter employees.  Additional information on these rules can be found at:

How the law applies

Part 3, Division 10 of the Employment Standards Regulation outlines the provisions for firefighters.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.

Contact Employment Standards

780‑427‑3731 (Edmonton and surrounding areas)

For toll-free calling, dial 1‑877‑427‑3731

From a cell phone, call #310 on Telus and Bell or *310 on Rogers.

Ask a question online

TTY/TDD for the deaf or hard of hearing

780‑427‑9999 (Edmonton and surrounding areas)

For toll-free calling, dial 1‑800‑232‑7215