What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions concerning overtime that protect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.

Length of the normal workweek

The normal workweek usually lasts 40 hours. Its length serves to determine the point in time from which an employee begins to work overtime.

However, for some employees the normal workweek is not  40 hours:

Length of the normal workweek

Employees of the clothing industry

39 hours
Watchmen who guard a property on behalf of a firm providing surveillance services44 hours
Employees working in a forestry operation or a sawmill  47 hours
Employees who work in a remote area or on the James Bay territory55 hours
Watchmen who do not work for a firm providing surveillance services60 hours

The normal workweek is not a period of time beyond which an employee may refuse to work.

Calculation of overtime

The hours worked in addition to the hours of the normal workweek must be paid with a 50% premium in addition to the regular hourly rate (time and a half), without counting the premiums available on an hourly basis such as night shift premiums.

Francis works nights in a supermarket. He is paid $14 an hour. A night bonus of $0.50 an hour is added to his wage. Last week, Francis worked 45 hours. How does his employer calculate his wage? The 5 hours worked in addition the the normal workweek must be paid with a 50% premium. The night bonus doesn’t have to be increased. Francis will receive $21.50 for every hour of overtime.


At the employee’s request, the employer may replace the payment of overtime with a leave of an equivalent duration of the overtime hours worked, increased by 50% (7 hrs = 10 hrs 30 min.).

The annual vacation and statutory holidays are considered days worked for the purposes of calculating overtime.

For some employees, it is the initial agreement that establishes the point in time when they begin to work overtime:

Agreement with a specific number of hours per week

An employee hired for fixed wages to work a predetermined number of hours and who is able to define an hourly rate by dividing the wages by the number of hours worked stipulated in his agreement would seem to be an employee paid at an hourly rate. Hours worked beyond 40 hours should be increased by 50%.

Agreement without a minimum or maximum limit on the number of hours per week

If the agreement stipulates a fixed amount for working an unlimited number of hours of work, with no minimum or maximum, the employer cannot deduct the missing hours if the employee did not work at least 40 hours.

How to calculate the indemnity

The Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail provides employers and employees with access to monCalcul, a tool designed to help calculate the amounts to which an employee is entitled according to the type of compensation in effect.

Staggering of working hours

If the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail gives its authorization, an employer may stagger the working hours over several weeks.

The staggering request must include:

  • the advantage derived from the absence of overtime pay at time and a half for the concerned employees
  • contain the signatures of the concerned employees
  • show that the employees were made aware of the consequences related to the staggering request and the advantages derived from it
  • prove that the request is not a way to circumvent the payment of overtime beyond the hours of the normal workweek in Québec, which is 40 hours

The authorization must be posted in the workplace of the employees affected. This authorization from the Commission is not necessary when the staggering of working hours is stipulated in a collective agreement or a decree.

The employer and the employee may also agree, under the same conditions, on a staggering agreement on a non-weekly basis without the authorization of the Commission. In this case, the following conditions also apply:

  • the agreement, of a maximum duration of six months, is found in writing at least 30 days before the start of the first staggering period covered by the agreement
  • the working hours are staggered on a maximum period of four weeks
  • a workweek may not exceed by more than 10 hours the norm found in the law or in the regulations

Right to refuse to work

  • he is asked to work more than 2 hours beyond their regular hours or more than 14 hours per 24-hour period, whichever period is shorter 
  • he is asked to work more than 12 hours per 24-hour period. This provision only applies to employees whose daily working hours are variable or non-continuous.
  • if he hasn’t been informed that they would be required to work 5 days in advance, except when the nature of their functions require that he remains available. The employer respecting the 5-day delay must attempt to respect the employee’s schedule by all reasonable means

An employee may also refuse to work if, in a given week:

  • he is asked to work more than 50 hours, except if their working hours are staggered
  • he is asked to work more than 60 hours. This provision only applies to employees who work in a remote area or, more specifically, on the James Bay territory.

An employee cannot refuse to work:

  • in the case where the life, health or safety of workers or the public is endangered
  • in the case of a risk of destruction of or serious damage to property and buildings, or in another case of superior force 
  • if this refusal violates his professional code of ethics.

Differences in conditions of employment

An employer cannot give an employee who is subject to the Act respecting labour standards conditions of employment that are less advantageous than those of other employees doing the same work in the same establishment due to their hiring date, the hours worked on a regular basis or, after a regulation is adopted, because they are the employee of a staff placement agency. 

These conditions of employment notably deal with:

  • wages
  • length of work
  • paid statutory holidays
  • annual vacation
  • rest periods
  • absences and leaves for family or parental reasons
  • notice of termination of employment.
  • the pension plan and other benefits, if the distinction did not exist before June 11th 2018.

If an employee feels that they are victim of an illegal difference in their conditions of employment, a legal recourse could take place before the Tribunal administratif du travail.

To learn more, consult section Differences in conditions of employment.

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