The law says

An employer can stagger the working-hours of its employees over several weeks, if the Commission authorizes it, provided that the average of the working-hours is equivalent to the norm provided by the Act. Accordingly, the employer will not be required to pay overtime at a higher rate on a weekly basis.

To be eligible, the employer must demonstrate that its business is subject to special conditions or exceptions.

The employer must also apply to the Commission for authorization. This application must:

  • indicate how the absence of overtime pay at time and a half on a weekly basis benefits the employees concerned;
  • contain the signature of the employees concerned;
  • show that the employees are aware of the consequences related to the application for staggered hours and of the other benefits they draw from them;
  • prove that this is not a means used to bypass the principle of payment of overtime for hours that are beyond those of the normal workweek described in the Act or the regulations. A copy of the application and the authorization certificate must be posted in the workplace. Accordingly, the concerned employees will be able to read these documents at any time.
Note

The Commission’s authorization is not necessary when staggered working-hours are set out in a collective agreement or a decree.

Agreement between an employee and employer

An employer and an employee can agree to stagger working-hours on a basis other than a weekly basis, without the Commission’s authorization, also on condition that the average of the working-hours is equivalent to the norm provided by law. To do so, the following conditions must be met:

  • The agreement must be in writing and provide for staggered working-hours over a maximum of four weeks;
  • A workweek cannot exceed the norm provided in the Act or the regulations by more than 10 hours;
  • The employee or the employer can terminate the agreement with a minimum of two weeks’ notice before the end of the arranged staggered working-hours.

Duration of the authorization for staggered working-hours

First authorization application

1 year maximum

Renewal of an authorization application

3 years maximum

 

The payment of overtime

Week 1

36 hours

The average number of hours corresponds to the norm provided in the Act. The employer does not have to pay overtime at a higher rate.

Week 2

44 hours

Week 1

37 hours

The average number of hours is 4 hours beyond the norm provided in the Act.  The employer must pay overtime for these hours at a higher rate.

Week 2

47 hours

Note

Any application for staggered hours must be filed with the Commission at least two months before the beginning of the desired staggered hours. If this time limit is not respected, there will be a floating period between the end of the authorization and the effective date of the renewal. During this period, the employer must pay overtime as provided by sections 52 and 55 of the Act respecting labour standards.

 

The Employee's Rights

An employee affected by an application for staggered hours must benefit from it in another way, to compensate for the loss of overtime paid at a higher rate on a weekly basis. The employer must demonstrate this benefit.

Employees not concerned with staggered working-hours

Part-time or on-call employees are not usually concerned with authorization for staggered working-hours. Their work mode does not usually include benefits that would compensate for their loss of overtime hours remunerated at a higher rate.

The employees’ consent

The employees must be entirely aware of the effects that the staggered working-hours will have. The written consent of the majority (50% plus one) of the employees affected by an application for staggered working-hours is therefore an essential condition for obtaining authorization. The employees’ consent must be free and voluntary, it cannot be a condition of the employees’ hiring.

Seasonal Activities

Landscaping or ornamental horticulture

For employers in this sector, the authorization takes effect at the beginning of the intensive activity period and terminates at the end of that period. Overtime is calculated on a four-week basis and the employer is required to pay its employees regular pay of 40 hours per week.

Other seasonal activities

For employers in a sector of seasonal activities of another nature, the authorization takes effect at the beginning of the activity period and terminates at the end of that period. Overtime is calculated on a two- or four-week basis and the employer is required to pay its employees regular pay of 40 hours per week.

Are you an employer that wants to submit an application?

Before submitting an application, ensure that your business is eligible by consulting the policy on staggered working-hours . Then, if necessary, complete the application form or the authorization renewal form , and submit it to your regional office.

If your staggered working-hours application involves employees who work in a remote area, ensure that you complete the schedule Formulaire pour le travail dans un endroit isolé and attach it to your application.

Questions fréquentes

  1. In the context of staggered working-hours, can the employer have its employees work overtime?

    Yes. 
    The employer can do so occasionally provided that the employees’ usual schedule is equivalent to the norm provided in the Act. The employer must then pay the compensation provided in the Act respecting labour standards.

  2. Can consent to the authorization for staggered working-hours be a hiring requirement?

    No.
    An employer must first hire the employee and then obtain the employees’ consent. The employee’s consent must be free and voluntary.

  3. Does the employer have to inform the Commission when a new employee is hired, if that hiring changes the percentage of the majority that accepted the staggered working-hours? 

    Yes. 
    In the context of staggered working-hours that are authorized by the Commission, the employer must promptly advise the Commission or face having its authorization invalidated. The Commission must be notified of any change in the information contained in the original authorization.

Top of page