Oilwell servicing – Employment standards exceptions

There are special provisions to the rules outlined in the Employment Standards Code for oilwell servicing employees.

Basic rules

  • The overtime rule for oilwell servicing employees is 12 hours per day or 191 hours per month, whichever is greater.
  • Overtime must be paid for hours worked in excess of 44 hours a week, in either the first or last month of employment if fewer than 191 hours is worked in those months.
  • The requirement to confine an employee’s hours of work within a period of 12 consecutive hours in a work day does not apply to oilwell servicing.
  • Bonus payments are subject to different rules around vacation pay, general holiday pay, and overtime pay.

Oilwell servicing employee

Oilwell servicing is considered work necessary for the completion, recompletion or remedial treatment of an oil or gas well. It includes:

  • drillstem testing
  • production or well testing
  • open hole testing
  • closed hole testing
  • wireline
  • power tong operators
  • mud logging
  • injecting drilling mud and drilling fluids
  • cementing
  • acidizing
  • rathole drilling
  • air quality monitoring
  • oilfield firefighters
  • plugging
  • testing blow out preventers (BOP)
  • running downhole packers
  • installation of submergible pumps
  • install electronic drilling rig instrumentation and hydraulic chokes
  • tubing testing
  • fracturing
  • swabbing
  • tubing and casing pressure testing
  • logging
  • perforating
  • well stimulation
  • fishing
  • thread cleaning
  • water, steam and vacuum truck operators

The following are not considered oilwell servicing employees:

  • employees who work primarily in an office
  • employees involved in the drilling of the well and work performed with a mobile workover or completion service rig

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 oilwell servicing employees.

Exceptions to the minimum standards for regular and overtime hours of work

Employees must receive overtime:

  • for hours worked in excess of  12 hours a day or 191 hours a month, whichever is greater
  • for hours worked in excess of 44 hours a week, in either the first or last month of employment if fewer than 191 hours is worked in those months

Regular rules for overtime pay rates and banked overtime apply.

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 oilwell servicing.

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 Act and Occupational Health and Safety Code.
  • Under Occupational Health and Safety (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.
  • For more information on Drivers Hours of Service, please contact Carrier Services:

Some oilwell servicing employees, such as water, steam, and vacuum truck operators, may be subject to either the federal or provincial Drivers' Hours of Service Regulations, which govern the maximum driving times and minimum off-duty times of commercial vehicle drivers.

When travel time is work

Any travel time that occurs after the employee starts to provide services is recorded as work hours.

If a collective agreement is in place, provisions in the agreement may determine how travel time is managed.

If not covered by a collective agreement, travel time is considered work when an employee, whether driver or passenger:

  • goes from the employer's business or a place designated by the employer to a work site; or
  • goes from one job site to another job site; or
  • is directed to pick up materials or perform other tasks on the way to work or home

Rate of pay

Travel time hours may be paid out at a different rate of pay, as long as the employee is informed ahead of time and the rate is at least minimum wage.

When travel time is not work

In general, home-to-work and work-to-home travel isn’t considered time spent working. If the employer chooses to pay the employee for this travel time, the payment would not generally be considered wages.

Travel time is not considered work when employees are given the choice, or an agreement between the employer and employee or union is in place, to:

  • provide their own transportation to or from the work location, or
  • report to a certain point from which the employee may access transportation provided by the employer

When on call is work

Being on call is generally not considered to be work and wages aren’t payable for on call time, although the employer and employee can agree to some form of pay.

Example: An acceptable on call arrangement that isn’t work is where an employee carries a pager during non-work hours.

An employee is considered to be working and owed wages when an employer places additional responsibilities on the employee during on call periods, such as wearing of uniforms or continuously monitoring radio calls which aren’t solely for that employee.

When standby is work

An employee is considered to be working when directed by the employer to wait at the worksite (on standby).

Bonus payments

  • A bonus must be paid within 10 days after the end of the pay period subsequent to the one in which the bonus was earned.
  • Vacation pay is payable on:
    • the entire salary portion, and
    • portion of the bonus remaining, after subtracting overtime (calculated using the employee’s wage rate as the hourly rate).
  • When an employee is paid a combination of salary and a bonus:
    • a bonus is not considered to be wages when calculating general holiday pay
    • the minimum entitlement to overtime pay and pay for time worked on a general holiday is calculated using the general minimum wage

Calculating minimum overtime and general holiday pay

If an employer pays an employee both salary and bonus, a calculation determines if they got the minimum entitlement for overtime and time worked on a general holiday.

The bonus received in the pay period must be equal to or greater than the minimum entitlement, which is calculated as:

  • 1.5 times general minimum wage for all overtime hours worked, plus
  • 1.5 times general minimum wage for all hours worked on the general holiday

The employer must pay the difference if the bonus in the pay period is less than this minimum entitlement.

Example minimum entitlement calculation

An employee gets a bonus of $600 in the pay period in which they work 20 overtime hours and 10 hours on the general holiday.

This example uses the following equations for overtime hours worked and hours worked on the general holiday:

Overtime Hours: $22.50 (1.5 x $15) x 20 hours = $450
General Holiday Hours: $22.50 (1.5 x $15) x 10 hours = $225

Total: $675

In this example, the employer must pay $75 because the bonus earned in this pay period ($600) is less than the minimum entitlement ($675).

This example assumes that average daily wage is paid separately for general holidays where required.  The standard calculation of average daily wage applies to oilwell services.  For full details see, General holidays and pay.

Additional Employment Standards

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

How the law applies

Part 3, Division 6 of the Employment Standards Regulation outlines the provisions for oilwell servicing employees.

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