Can Managers Refuse Overtime?

Can Managers Refuse Overtime? | Lecker & Associates - Employment Lawyers Toronto

Refusing to work extra hours is risky business for managers. Like all regular employees, managers’ relationships with their employers are governed by Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA). However, regulations under the Act also exempt those “whose work is supervisory or managerial in character” from the overtime provisions, which would otherwise entitle anyone to 1.5 times their normal rate of pay for any time worked beyond 44 hours per week.

This legal definition downplays the importance of an employee’s title since an individual can be known as a manager without actually performing a supervisory role. The reverse is also true, so that a person who is not labelled as a manager may still be exempt from overtime pay if the work has a managerial character.

Company Greed | Lecker and AssociatesHowever, if managers or supervisors refuse to work any additional hours, it is very risky. Employees have a duty to follow reasonable orders from an employer according to court decisions. Managers need a pretty good reason to say no like a family emergency, personal health crisis or loss of a loved one. Expectations from employers will differ depending on the industry in which the manager is employed, but certain tasks, such as filling in for someone who is off sick, staying behind to close up shop or count inventory, are typically regarded as managerial.

These are clear implied duties that managers accept by virtue of being a manager. It crosses over into a less clear answer when a transitory request turns into something more permanent. As such, Judges will tend to look favourably on managers when extra work begins materially impinging on the employee’s work-life balance. Employers may not expect managers to work forever until they collapse due to exhaustion. The hours worked have to be reasonable and the point at which they become unreasonable will depend on the industry and what’s expected in the employment contract, among other factors.

When this occurs, the best response for managers is to document their concerns in writing. Keep a journal that can confirm the actual number of overtime hours you have worked and hold onto any proof calendars time dockets or texts or e-mails.

The overtime provisions of the ESA are subject to more change than most. Historically, the overtime exemptions have expanded to react to the economic landscape and currently include information technology professionals, taxi drivers, mushroom growers, landscape gardeners, and more. These excluded workers that are ineligible for overtime is a class that is sadly always expanding, especially with the arrival of artificial intelligence eliminating some jobs.

If you feel that you are being treated unfairly by your employer because of managerial obligations to work overtime, contact us.

Lecker & Associates has practised employment law for over 35 years, exclusively representing employees. Unfortunately, we have witnessed too many employees subjected to egregious abuses for being parents and caregivers, simply because they had a limited understanding of the law. If your situation is like any of those described above, call us for a review. In addition to resolving the matter for you, we will educate your employer about the law, resulting in a better work-life balance for everyone at your workplace.

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