What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions concerning an employee’s presence at work that protect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.

Working hours and presence at work

An employee is deemed to be at work and must be paid:

  • when he is at his employer’s disposal on the worksite and he is required to wait for work to be assigned
  • during breaks granted by the employer
  • during the time of any travel required by the employer
  • during any trial period or training required by the employer.

The employer must reimburse the employee for the reasonable expenses that the employee must pay when, at the employer’s request, he must travel or take training.

Coffee break

An employer is under no obligation to offer coffee breaks, but when a coffee break is granted, it must be paid and included in the calculation of the hours worked.


After a period of work of 5 consecutive hours, the employee is entitled to a 30-minute period, without pay, for his meal. He must be paid for this period if he is unable to leave his work station.

Indemnity for reporting to work (less than 3 hours worked)

An employee who reports to work at the express request of his employer or in the normal course of his employment and who does not work or works fewer than 3 consecutive hours is entitled to an indemnity equal to 3 hours of pay at his regular wage.

The employee is entitled to the tips received during this period. If the provisions concerning overtime assure him of a greater amount, the employee will not benefit from the 3-hour indemnity for reporting to work, but rather the number of overtime hours increased by 50%.

This provision does not apply in the case of superior force (example: fire) or when the employee is hired for periods of less than 3 hours (example: certain ushers, school bus drivers, school crossing guards, etc.).

Weekly rest

Each week, an employee is entitled to a rest period of at least 32 consecutive hours. In the case of a farm worker, his day of rest may be postponed to the following week if he is in agreement.

Right to refuse to work

An employee may refuse to work if, on a given day:

  • he is asked to work more than 4 hours beyond his 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.

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

  • he is asked to work more than 50 hours, except if his 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:

  • if the exercice of this right jeopardizes the life, health or safety of workers or the population
  • 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 his hiring date.

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
  • retirement plan and other benefits, if the difference didn’t exist before June 11th 2018

If an employee considers that he is the victim of a prohibited difference, there may be recourse before the civil courts.

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

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is an employer required to plan a daily work schedule of at least 3 hours?
    No. If the type of work is such that it can usually be done in a period of less than 3 hours, the employer may plan work schedules of less than 3 hours.

  2. Can an employer ask an employee to arrive 15 minutes earlier than what is stipulated in his schedule?
    Yes. However, if the employer asks the employee to arrive 10 or 15 minutes earlier or to leave 10 or 15 minutes later, the employee must be paid for this time.
    All time worked or during which an employee is at his employer’s disposal must be paid. It is not the time when the enterprise’s doors open or close or the schedule that counts, but rather the length of time during which the employee is at his employer’s disposal.

  3. Is the employer required to post the work schedule a long time in advance?
    No. Nothing in the Act stipulates when the employer must post the work schedule.

  4. Must training be remunerated?
    Yes. When an employer requires that his employee take training, whether during or after working hours, the employer must remunerate his employee for these hours, and take into account overtime, where applicable. He must also reimburse the employee for all expenses paid for this training, such as enrollment fees, transportation expenses, etc.

  5. Is it up to the employer to decide the employee’s work schedule?
    The work schedule is a management right of the employer provided that he complies with the Act respecting labour standards when it comes to the weekly rest period and the right to refuse to work.

  6. Is my employer required to grant me 8 hours of rest between two work shifts?
    . The Act respecting labour standards makes no provision for a minimum rest period between two work shifts. However, under certain circumstances, an employee may refuse to work.

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