Certain industries and occupations have special rules and exceptions. See Exceptions for special industries for more information.
- An employee may work a maximum of 12-hours a day unless an exception occurs.
- An employee is entitled to one 30-minute paid or unpaid break after the first 5 hours of work for shifts that are between 5 and 10 hours long.
- For shifts 10 hours or longer, an employee is entitled to two 30-minute breaks.
- An employee is not entitled to any breaks if their shift is 5 hours or less.
- If an employer and an employee agree, the break may be taken in 2 periods of at least 15 minutes.
- Employees are entitled to at least one day of rest each work week.
Daily hours of work
An employee’s work must be confined within a period of 12 consecutive hours per day, unless one of the following occurs:
- an accident occurs or urgent work is required
- other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
- a variance authorizes longer hours
Notice of work times
Employers must notify their employees of the time that work starts and ends. The employer can do this by posting notices where they can be seen by employees, or by other reasonable methods.
Rest between shifts
An employee must not be required to change from one shift to another without at least 24 hours’ written notice and at least 8 hours’ rest between shifts.
Daily rest periods (breaks)
Employers must give their employees breaks as follows:
|Length of shift||Breaks|
|5 hours or less||No break entitlement|
|More than 5 hours but less than 10 hours||At least one 30-minute break|
|10 hours or more||At least two 30-minute breaks|
If an employer and an employee agree, the break may be taken in 2 periods of at least 15 minutes.
If the employer and the employee cannot agree on a break schedule:
- The employer must provide at least 30 minutes within or immediately following the first 5 hours of the shift (at a time chosen by the employer)
- For shifts 10 hours or longer, the employer must provide at least 30 minutes within or immediately following the first 5 hours of the shift (at a time chosen by the employer) and a second break of at least 30 minutes after the first 5 hours of the shift.
The exception to break entitlements would be if one of the following occurs:
- an accident occurs or urgent work is required
- other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
- different break arrangements have been made through a collective agreement, or
- it’s not reasonable for the employee to take a rest period; if the employee is unable to take their break, then it must be paid
While this is the minimum standard, employers may provide longer daily rest periods.
Paid vs. unpaid breaks
Breaks can be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. However, if the employer places restrictions on an employee’s activities during a break, such as prohibiting the employee from leaving the premises, the break must be paid.
Employees are entitled to at least 1 day of rest each work week.
Work weeks can be combined so the employee receives the following days of rest:
- 2 consecutive days of rest in each period of 2 consecutive work weeks
- 3 consecutive days of rest in each period of 3 consecutive work weeks
- 4 consecutive days of rest in each period of 4 consecutive work weeks
Every employer must allow each employee at least 4 consecutive days of rest after each period of 24 consecutive work days.
Employers are only required to pay employees for travel time that’s considered work.
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
Employees attending a compulsory meeting or scheduled training session
If the meeting or training occurs on an employee’s regularly scheduled day off, the employee must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime if applicable. If the meeting or training is less than 3 hours in length, the 3-hour minimum rule applies.
Please also note:
- if an employee returns to work to attend the meeting or training after completing their shift, the employee must be paid the wages agreed to or overtime if applicable, whichever is greater
- the rate of pay for meetings or training cannot be less than the minimum wage
- the pay received by the employee must equal or exceed the amount described in the section on minimum compensation for short periods of work
- if the meeting or training isn’t compulsory but is directly related to the employee’s work, and the employee attends, they must be paid the wages agreed to, and overtime if applicable; the employee must receive at least the minimum compensation as described above
Employees ‘on call’ or ‘on standby’ at home
- If an employee isn’t required to perform work at home, no payment is required; being ‘on call’ or ‘on standby’ is not considered work.
- If an employee is required to work at home, the employee must be paid for hours worked at their regular rate of pay, plus applicable overtime, for the actual time worked.
- If the employee is required to leave home and report to the worksite, the minimum compensation for short periods of work as previously described is applicable once the employee reports to work.
Employees asked to work for short periods
Unless an employer has a variance, the following minimum standards apply:
Employees must be paid for at least 3 hours of pay at the minimum wage each time they’re required to report to work, or come to work for short periods. This 3-hour minimum doesn’t apply if the employee isn’t available to work the full 3 hours.
If an employee works for fewer than 3 consecutive hours, the employer must pay wages that are at least equal to 3 hours at the minimum wage.
If an employee’s regular wage is greater than the minimum wage, the employer may pay them for less than 3 hours of work at this higher rate, as long as the total is higher than 3 hours at minimum wage.
The following employees must be paid minimum compensation for at least 2 hours at not less than minimum wage (or Job Creation Student Wage for students under 18):
- school bus drivers
- part-time employees of non-profit recreation or athletic programs run by a municipality, Metis Settlement or community service organization
- home care employees
- 13, 14 and 15 year olds who work on a school day
Employees working split shifts
If an employee is required to work a split shift and there’s more than a 1-hour break between the 2 segments of the shift, the employee must be paid the minimum compensation required for each segment of their shift.
See Youth employment for more information.
The following jobs are exempt from the minimum standards for hours of work and rest:
- managers, supervisors and those employed in a confidential capacity
- farm and ranch workers exempt from daily and weekly hours of work and rest; monthly days of rest requirements apply
- mobile workover or completion service drilling operations employees
- roadbuilding or heavy construction operations employees
- oil and gas continuous operations employees
- municipal police service members
- lookout observers
- post-secondary academic staff
- professionals, including agrologists, architects, certified or chartered accountants, chiropractors, dentists, denturists, engineers, geoscientists, information systems professionals, lawyers, optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists and veterinarians
- salespersons of automobiles, trucks, buses, farm machinery, road construction equipment, heavy duty equipment, manufactured homes or residential homes
- salespersons who solicit orders, principally outside of the employer’s place of business, who are fully or partly paid by commission; this doesn’t apply to route salespersons.
- licensed salespersons of real estate and securities
- licensed insurance salespersons who are paid entirely by commission income
- salespersons who are at least 16 years old and are engaged in direct selling for licensed direct sellers.
- licensed land agents
- extras in a film or video production
- counsellors or instructors at a non-profit educational or recreational camp for children, handicapped individuals, or religious groups
- domestic employees (these employees are exempt only from sections 16 and 17 of the Code concerning hours of work and notice of work times, but not from rest periods).
- residential and homecare caregivers; employees are exempt only from section 16 of the Code concerning hours of work, but not from rest periods.
How the law applies
Part 2, Division 3 of the Employment Standards Code makes provisions for employees’ hours of work, rests periods, days of rest and notice of work times.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.
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