How should an employer handle unauthorized overtime work?

How should an employer handle unauthorized overtime work?

Unauthorized overtime work is when an employee works over forty hours in a week without the approval of their employer or requested prior to the work week. It is common for employees to work outside of their scheduled hours. They may have to complete a task that is taking longer than expected, work through unpaid breaks, communicate with clients on weekends, etc.

The most typical types of unauthorized overtime workers are first, those who arrive early and leave late in the evening when the work could have easily been completed within scheduled work hours. Second, when employees continue working at home after they leave the office. And third, when the employee continuously works overtime without seeking the employer’s approval.

A common concern for employers is whether they are still legally obligated to compensate their employees for working these overtime hours. Often, employers will have a policy that states employees must gather authorization before working overtime. It ensures that employers are keeping track of any extra hours worked and can better plan for how much they will need to compensate their employees.

However, the existence of a policy, whether it be outlined in an Employment Contract or written in company mandates, does not necessarily mean employers will avoid paying all unauthorized overtime hours that haven’t been approved in advance. There may be cases where overtime pay must be compensated to employees, even without prior approval.

In what cases may the employer need to pay?

The Ontario Court of Appeal stipulates that an employer cannot be wilfully blind or ignore employees working overtime hours and refuse to remunerate for the sole reason that they did not receive prior approval. It has been ruled by the Supreme Court of Justice that if the employer knows or ought to know that the employee is working overtime hours, and fails to prevent the work being completed, that the employer is legally required to renumerate their employee.

It is important that the employer does their best to recognize what they ought to know about their employee’s work week. To avoid compensating many extra hours, employers should always have a good understanding of how much work they assign to each employee and how much time the employee is likely to take to complete all their responsibilities.

If you’re an employer looking to create an unauthorized overtime hours policy, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.