Going into overtime

Recent class action suits for big money shows the importance of being familiar with and following statutory overtime requirements
By Madeleine Loewenberg and Lorenzo Lisi
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/24/2008

A growing awareness of overtime

At some point in their working lives, almost everyone works overtime. Some put in a few extra hours and never give it another thought. Others, as evidenced by the recent increase in overtime class action litigation, have been thinking about it a lot. Employees are becoming more aware of their right to limit hours of work and to receive overtime pay. In turn, employers are discovering a failure to comply with legislated employment standards can lead to class actions by employees who have worked hours beyond the statutory requirements for overtime pay. As evidenced by some of the recent actions, these suits can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Madeleine Loewenberg and Lorenzo Lisi take a look at some of the factors that have contributed to the rise of the class action overtime lawsuit in Ontario and what employers can do to avoid getting caught in a similar situation.

The hours of work and overtime provisions of employment standards legislation set limits on the hours that can be worked in a day and a week, govern when overtime must be paid, provide for employee consent to extend the number of hours worked and indicate how an authorization to exceed hours of work can be obtained. Employers who don’t pay attention to these standards can find themselves liable for big overtime claims such as those in the CIBC, Scotiabank, KPMG and Canadian National Railway class actions.