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What Counts as Work Time?

  • Content last reviewed: January 2012

It is necessary to determine what counts as work time (hours of work) for the purposes of determining compliance with the minimum wage, overtime and hours of work (including rest entitlements) provisions under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Generally, work is considered to be performed when the employee is actually working or the employee is not working but is required to stay at the workplace. However, even if the employee is required to stay, he or she is not considered to be working during the time that he or she is entitled to take time off and does take time off for:

  • an eating period;
  • sleeping (provided that the employer provides the sleeping facilities and the employee is entitled to at least six uninterrupted hours off work); or
  • engaging in private affairs or pursuits.

Note that an employee who is not at the workplace but is “on call” is not considered to be working unless the on-call employee is called into work.

Travel Time

Commuting time and travel during the workday are treated differently under the ESA.

Commuting time is the time it takes an employee to get to work from home and vice-versa. This is not counted as work time for the purposes of the ESA.

However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule.

  • If the employee takes a work vehicle home in the evening for the convenience of the employer, the work time begins when the employee leaves home in the morning and ends when he or she arrives home in the evening.
  • If the employee is required to transport other staff or supplies to or from the workplace or work site, time so spent must be counted as work time.
  • If the employee has a usual workplace but is required to travel to another location to perform work, the time traveling to and from that other location is counted as work time.

Time spent travelling during the course of the workday is considered to be work time.

Training Time

Time spent by an employee in training that is required by the employer or by law is counted as work time. For example, where the training is required because the employee is a new employee or where it is required as a condition of continued employment in a position, the training time is considered to be work time.

Time spent in training that is not required by the employer or by law in order for an employee to do his or her job is not counted as work time. For example, where an employee hoping for a promotion with the employer takes training in order to qualify for it, time spent taking the training is not considered to be work time.

 

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