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Underpaid and overworked in Canada

Survey reveals Canadian employees are denied the overtime pay and rest days they deserve

If you're feeling burnout, you're not alone. A new survey, commissioned by TSheets, of 500 Canadian employees reveals many feel overworked, underpaid, and in serious need of some time off.*

Overdue for overtime pay

17% of employees say they've been denied overtime pay. 20% of employees say they're not eligible to receive overtime pay. 4% of employees don't know if they're eligible to receive overtime pay.

Over half (59%) of respondents say they receive the overtime pay due to them, but that still leaves 41% denied. Whenever an employee legitimately works overtime, they are entitled to the appropriate pay or time off in lieu thereof. An employer cannot assert the overtime was not authorized and refuse to pay for it.

There is also a common myth that salaried employees are not entitled to receive overtime pay. This is not true. Canada's overtime laws vary from province to province, but both hourly and salaried employees can be eligible for 1.5 times their normal pay when they work more than 40, 44, or 48 hours a week. Some are eligible for overtime when they work more than 8 or 10 hours a day.

Annual leave entitlements

Annual leave entitlements vary from province to province, with fewer than five days on the low end to unlimited on the high end.

There is no statutory entitlement to annual leave in the first year of employment. Provincial law governs annual paid leave, but all provinces guarantee at least two weeks of paid vacation earned after one full year of employment. The only exception is Saskatchewan, which mandates three weeks as the baseline.

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Wasted and wasting away

Almost half (46%) of employees did not get to use all their annual leave last year. Respondents had anywhere from one day to six weeks of unused annual leave. It was estimated there were 31 million unused leave days in 2016 alone.

How much of your annual leave did you not use last year?

46% of the employees surveyed did not use all of their annual leave. Some workers had as much as 20 or 30 days of unused leave left at the end of the year.
50% of employees were asked to work for 7 to 28 days consecutively.

While provincial laws and union agreements vary, the general rule of rest is employers are required to allocate at least 24 to 32 hours of rest for employees per week. Our data shows, on average, the longest employees have been asked to work without a day off is 10 consecutive days, which is a potential breach of the Employment Standards Act.

What's the longest an employer has ever asked you to work without a day off?

Workers in the survey were asked to work as many as 90 consecutive days without a break. 2 respondents said they have been asked to work for 90 day consecutively, without a break

More money? Or more time?

Use it or lose it vacation policies are illegal in Canada.

Indeed, an employment search engine, recently found in their salary study that, despite record-low unemployment numbers, real wages haven't really changed substantially. As a result, they predict 52% of workers will ask for more money in 2018. According to our survey, 65% of employees would prefer a pay raise over more annual leave.

The other reason for pay raise prevailing could be due to existing provincial and territorial leave entitlements for federally regulated employees.

Annual leave entitlements by province/territory

A listing of annual leave entitlements by province or territory.

Make time work for everyone

As the one true common denominator, both employers and employees are bound to this limited resource. As a small business's biggest expense, being able to manage it well and efficiently is crucial to survival. And if labour is your biggest expense, then the employees are your most valuable asset.

Why risk losing the best talent by not paying them the overtime they're owed because of a flawed time tracking system? Why deprive them of the annual leave they deserve due to poor record-keeping?

Appreciate and respect your employees' time, as you expect the same for yours. The solution is easier than you think, and it's already here.

*Methodology: TSheets commissioned Pollfish to survey 500 Canadian employees in March 2018 about their workplace compensation and benefits. The respondents were all over the age of 18 and 'employed for wages'.

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