Act respecting labour standards Chapter IV - Larbour standards (Section 39.1 to 97)
Chapter IV - Larbour standards (Section 39.1 to 97)
Division II - Hours of work (Section 52 to 59.0.1)
Maximum working hours
An employee may refuse to work
- more than two hours after regular daily working hours or more than fourteen working hours per twenty-four hour period, whichever period is the shortest or, for an employee whose daily working hours are flexible or non continuous, more than twelve working hours per twenty-four hour period;
- subject to section 53, more than fifty working hours per week or, for an employee working in an isolated area or carrying out work in the James Bay territory, more than sixty working hours per week;
- if he was not informed at least five days in advance that he would be required to work, unless the nature of his duties requires him to remain available or, in the case of a farm worker, his services are required within the limits set out in subparagraph 1.
This section does not apply where there is a danger to the life, health or safety of employees or the population, where there is a risk of destruction or serious deterioration of movable or immovable property or in any other case of superior force, or if the refusal is inconsistent with the employee’s professional code of ethics.
On May 1, 2003, the legislator introduced a new standard granting the employee the right to refuse to work beyond a certain number of hours to limit the hours of work. The total number of hours calculated from the first hour worked makes it possible to determine if an employee can exercise his right of refusal. This provision applies to managers, except for senior managers.
One must distinguish between the right of refusal granted to the employee from the case of this same employee who is party to a labour agreement which provides for a schedule that exceeds the limits stipulated in section 59.0.1 of the Act. For example, an employee hired to work on the basis of a schedule of 55 hours per week. In such an instance, if the employee systematically refuses to work his schedule set at 55 hours per week, this could be assimilated with a failure to respect the agreement for which he was hired. An employee cannot use the right of refusal for the future to modify his conditions of employment agreed upon with the employer.
The right of refusal may be exercised daily, weekly, or both.
The right of refusal may be exercised on a daily basis:
- for an employee having a regular schedule, more than 4 hours beyond his usual hours or more than 14 hours per 24-hour period, whichever is shorter;
- for an employee whose usual hours are variable or done on a non-continuous basis, more than 12 hours per 24-hour period.
The regular schedule does not necessarily imply that the employee works the same number of hours every day. For example, an employee who works on the basis of a schedule of 8 hours on Monday, 7 hours on Tuesday and 10 hours on Friday, and who does this schedule on a weekly basis, has a regular schedule.
The right of refusal may be exercised on a weekly basis, regardless of the employee’s schedule, after:
- more than 50 hours per week, unless there is an authorization to stagger working hours on other than a weekly basis, as stipulated in section 53 (staggering of working hours);
- more than 60 hours for an employee who works in a remote territory or on the territory of the James Bay region.
An employee who works in a remote area or in James Bay may refuse to work:
- if he has a regular work schedule: more than 2 additional hours per day or more than 14 hours per 24-hour period, whichever is shorter;
- if his working hours are variable or done on a non-continuous basis: more than 12 hours per 24-hour period;
- more than 60 hours of work per week.
It should be noted that the regular workweek of these latter employees is 55 hours according to sections 12 and 13 of the Regulation respecting labour standards.
The right of refusal may also be exercised:
- if the employee was not informed at least five days in advance that he would be required to work, unless the nature of his duties requires him to remain available;
- if, in the case of a farm worker, the employee’s services are required within the limits set out in subparagraph 1.
The legislator places a restriction on the right to refuse to work in certain specific cases. The right of refusal cannot be exercised:
if the life, health or safety of workers or the population is in danger;
This principle is already established in section 2 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (R.S.Q., c. C-12) which confirms the right to assistance for a human whose life is in danger.
- in case of a risk of destruction or serious deterioration of movable or immovable property or other case of superior force;
For the employer, the case of superior force does not concern the continuation of his production, but rather the implementation of means to preserve goods and services.
- if the refusal violates the employee's professional code of ethics.