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Right to refuse to work overtime

Work schedule

A worker may refuse to work overtime if, on a given day:

  1. they are asked to work more than 2 hours over their regular hours or more than 14hours per 24-hour period

Example

Oskar regularly works 7 hours per 24-hour period. He may refuse to work more than 9 hours per 24-hour period. His coworker Laurie, who usually works 8 hours a day, may refuse to work more than 10 hours per 24-hour period.

  1. they are asked to work more than 12 hours per 24-hour period. This rule applies only to workers whose daily work hours are flexible or non continuous 

  2. their employer did not inform them about their work schedule 5 days in advance, unless the nature of the worker’s duties requires them to remain available or if they are a farm worker
    An employer may ask a worker to extend their work day even if they did not inform them 5 days in advance. In this case, the worker may not refuse to work overtime solely because they were not informed 5 days in advance

Examples

Nina works from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday and has Tuesdays off. On Monday afternoon, her boss asks her to extend her work day because work is backed up. He also asks her to come into work on Tuesday.

  • Nina may not refuse to work longer on Monday solely because her employer did not inform her 5 days in advance. She may, however, refuse to work more than 2 hours over her regular daily hours, that is, after 8 p.m.
  • She may refuse to work on Tuesday because her employer did not inform her about her work schedule 5 days in advance.

Claudio works on call from Monday to Friday. The nature of his duties requires him to be available on these days of the week. 

  • He may not refuse to work on Thursday solely because his employer did not inform him about his schedule 5 days in advance.
  • He may, however, refuse to work on Saturday because his employer did not inform him about his schedule 5 days in advance.

A worker may also refuse to work overtime if, in a given week:

  1. they are asked to work more than 50 hours, unless their work hours are staggered 
  2. they are asked to work more than 60 hours. This measure applies only to workers who work in a remote area or in the James Bay territory

Example

Maggie always works 8 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Because work is backed up, she has to work at least 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday. As soon as she realizes that her work schedule means that she will have to work more than 50 hours, she must inform her employer if she intends to refuse to work as of the 51st work hour.

Despite these rules, a person may not refuse to work overtime:

  • if their refusal would endanger the life, health or safety of other people
  • if there is a risk of destruction or serious damage to movable or immovable property or in any other case of force majeure
  • if the refusal violates their code of ethics
     

Laws and regulations

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