Changing Employees Working Hours

Most companies are returning to more traditional hours. But, you or an employee may feel it’s beneficial to make a change to their working hours. However, you must give sufficient notice and have a discussion with them beforehand.

It’s important to understand the regulations behind changing an employee’s working hours. Failure to do so could lead to a breach of contract and potential legal trouble.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the reasons behind changing working hours, how much notice is needed and, if overtime work can be refused

Can an employer change your working hours?

As an employer, you’re entitled to make a change to an employee’s working hours. However, you cannot force an employee to accept them.

Forcing your employees to make changes to their working schedule could lead to constructive dismissal and a potential legal battle.

You should discuss any potential change to work hours when employment starts.

Include a change clause into their contract if you feel a change may be needed in the future.

How much notice is there to change their hours at work?

Employers have to give 96 hours of written notice of changes to a work schedule, following an update of the Canadian Labour Code.

This is alongside the 24 hours written notice required for a shift change. You must also provide eight hours of rest between shifts.

This applies to Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.

There can be exceptions to this, however, you must be able to prove that the changes couldn’t be foreseen. Such as a threat to the life, health, or safety of any person.

Can employees ask to change their working hours?

Employees are well within their right in asking to change their hours at work. But they must have a legitimate reason. It must be clear that issues may be caused if their hours aren’t changed.

An employee may put their request down in a letter to change working hours. Upon receiving this letter, hold a one-to-one meeting to discuss their request.

The letter should include the reasons why, the benefits it’ll bring and the issues it’ll cause if not changed.

This discussion will allow you to share any concerns surrounding the changes and come up with a solution that suits both. It will also strengthen the working relationship.

There are many reasons for changing working hours:

  • An employee needs time to study or attend college.
  • They have to attend regular medical appointments for themselves or a family member.
  • Family changes, such as having to complete the school run or childcare.
  • Undertaking a gradual return to work following long term sickness or maternity leave.
  • They’re looking to retire in the future, so may slowly reduce their working hours.

Although it may be frustrating having to alter someone’s working hours, circumstances change. Try and accommodate these requests where possible.

Can you be forced to work overtime in Canada?

When it comes to working overtime, employees have the right to refuse. But only for two specific reasons.

  • If they have responsibilities for the health and care of a family member or members.
  • If they have responsibilities for the education of any family members under the age of 18.

Before refusing the overtime, every effort must have been made to deal with the responsibilities. More information can be found on the Canadian Government website.

Get help with your contracts and employee hours today with BrightHR

If you need to change your employee’s hours, you need to have an open discussion with your employees.

Remember to listen to them if their circumstances change around work. Communication will strengthen the working relationship.

If you need assistance with your employee hours, BrightHR has a handy tool which will make the whole process easier for you.

Our HR document storage tool allows you to store your employee contracts on the cloud for you to make changes whenever required.

Contact us on 18882204924 or book a demo today.


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