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HR Advice for Hours of Work and Rest Break Guidelines in Alberta


As an employer in Alberta, do you know what the Employment Standards Code (ESC) says about hours of work and rest breaks? Employees are entitled to a certain amount of rest breaks and there are guidelines on how many hours an employee can work. This is what employers should know about hours of work and rest breaks in Alberta.

Hours of Work Limits in Alberta

According to the Employment Standards Code (ESC), employees in Alberta can work a maximum of 12 hours a day. However, there are a few exemptions to this. Employees may work beyond the hours of work limit if one of the following occurs:

  • An accident occurs or urgent work is required
  • Other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
  • A variance authorizes longer hours

Alberta employers are required to notify their employees of the time their work hours start and end. This can be done by posting work hour notices where employees can see this or by other reasonable methods.

Rest Breaks in Alberta

Employees in Alberta are entitled to rest breaks free from work. Employers must provide at least 30 minutes of break for every 5 hours of work. If both the employer and employee agree, this rest break may be split into two 15-minute periods. Employers are not required to provide a break for shifts that are less than 5 hours. Breaks can be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion, however, if an employee is required to stay at the workplace during a break it must be paid. Alberta employers must meet the minimum rest period requirements, but they may provide extra breaks or longer rest periods if they wish.

Days of Rest in Alberta

The ESC states that employees must be given a set amount of rest time between work shifts. Employers must give employees at least 8 hours of consecutive rest between shifts, and must give 24 hours written notice before changing shifts. Employees in Alberta are also entitled to days of rest. Employers are required to give at least 1 day of rest each work week. If work weeks are combined, employees should receive 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


Hours of Work and Overtime Pay

If an employee works beyond a certain number of hours they may be entitled to overtime pay. The ESC states that overtime hours start when an employee’s hours of work exceed 8 hours a workday or exceed 44 hours in the work week.  Employers must pay employees time and a half for any overtime hours unless they have entered an overtime agreement.   Managing hours of work can be complicated, but as an employer, it’s your responsibility to follow all of the guidelines outlined in Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. Contact our HR line if you need help managing employment hours or calculating overtime pay!

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