Can my boss refuse to give me breaks?
Only if you work 5 hours or less. If you work more than 5 hours but less than 10 hours, you should get at least 30 minutes of rest. If you work 10 hours or more, you should get at least two rest periods of at least 30 minutes each. A break can be taken all at once or broken into two 15-minute breaks. Breaks can be paid or unpaid. There are exceptions to this rule – see CPLEA’s FAQs on Hours of Work for more information.
Can my boss require me to work weekends?
Yes. The Employment Standards Code states that an employer must give employees days of rest but does not say which days those have to be. If weekend work is a job requirement, you should consider whether you want the job.
Can my boss refuse to give me a vacation?
No. Your boss must give you either vacation time or vacation pay.
However, your boss can refuse to give you a vacation at a certain time. If you and your employer cannot agree on when you can take your vacation, your employer has to give you at least 2 weeks’ written notice of the start date of your annual vacation. If this happens, you must take your vacation when your employer says so.
If you have worked less than 12 months, your boss does not have to agree to give you a vacation before your first 12 months of work are done.
For more information on vacations and vacation pay, see CPLEA’s FAQs on vacations.
Can my boss make me work a split or double shift?
If your job is covered by Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, you can work for up to 12 consecutive hours in one day. Your boss can only ask you to work for more than 12 hours if:
- an accident occurs
- urgent work is necessary to a plant or machinery
- other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances occur, or
- or your boss gets authorization from the Director of Employment Standards to increase to 16 hours per day.
There are certain rules that must be followed:
- All the work hours must fall within a 12-hour period (for example, 7am to 7pm).
- You must get at least 8 hours of rest between shifts (a double or split shift is considered one shift).
- If you work overtime while working a split shift, your boss must pay you for the overtime.
The above rules do not apply if a collective agreement says something different.
Can my boss send me home if there isn’t enough work?
Yes. Your employer can send you home early if there isn’t enough work.
If you worked for less than three hours, your employer must pay you at least minimum wage for three of hours of work (unless an exception applies – see below). A meal break of one hour or less is not part of the 3 consecutive hours of work. For example, if you work from 6pm to 9:30pm and take a one hour dinner break from 7pm to 8pm, your employer has to pay you for 3 hours even though you only worked for 2.5 hours.
If you worked for three hours or more, your employer must pay you for the hours you worked.
In some jobs, if you work less than 2 hours, your employer only has to pay for 2 hours of work. Those jobs are:
- part-time employees in recreational or athletic programs run by a city, town, Métis settlement or a not-for-profit community service organization
- school bus drivers
- students 13, 14, or 15 years of age employed when the student is required to attend school
Can my boss make me work overtime without paying me extra?
Alberta’s Employment Standards Code sets out how overtime is calculated and paid out to employees.
For some jobs, overtime for employees is calculated differently. For other jobs, employees do not get overtime. For more information, see CPLEA’s FAQs on overtime.
If the overtime rules apply to you, overtime hours are the greater of either:
- the total of any hours worked over 8 hours per day each day in the work week
- the total of any hours worked over 44 hours in the work week.
For example, if you worked ten hours per day for five days, you would have 10 hours of overtime using the first method (2 overtime hours each day) and 6 hours using the second method (50 hours worked less 44 hours in a work week). Your overtime is the greater amount and so would be 10 hours.
Your employer must pay you for overtime hours at 1.5 times your regular wage rate.
Your employer can give you time off in lieu of overtime hours if you have an overtime agreement with your employer. How you are paid overtime also depends on whether you are part of an averaging arrangement. An averaging arrangement averages an employee’s hours over a period of 1 to 52 weeks to determine how much overtime pay or time off in lieu the employee is entitled to.
As of September 1, 2019, your employer only has to give you one hour of time off for every hour of overtime worked.
For more information on overtime agreements and averaging arrangements, see CPLEA’s FAQs on Overtime.
Last updated: November 2020
All of the materials on this page were funded by the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF). This project was a result of a research project funded by HREMF in 2013. The research report is available here.