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Modified Work Arrangements

Section 2-19 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act allows employers and employees to average hours using a Modified Work Arrangement (MWA).  This is a change from the previous Labour Standards Act which required employers apply for an Averaging Hours Permit to the Director of the Labour Standards Division.

Standard Work Week

In Saskatchewan, with some exceptions,  employers need to have employee consent before the employee is scheduled to work or to be at the employer’s disposal for more than 44 hours in a week (or 36 hours in a week with a public holiday). In addition, overtime rates may apply after 40 hours in a week (or after 32 hours in weeks with a public holiday).

Modified Work Arrangements

Section 2-19 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act now allows employers and employees to average hours using a Modified Work Arrangement (MWA). Under the following conditions, averaging of hours does not require a permit from the Director of Employment Standards.

A MWA is an agreement between the employer, and an employee or a group of employees, that allows you to compress work time in one, two, three or four week cycles. In return, employees get longer periods of time off from work. 

Modified Work Arrangements can include averaging:

  • 40 hours over one week;
  • 80 hours over two weeks;
  • 120 hours over three weeks; and
  • 160 hours over four weeks.

Employees working on average less than 30 hours per week cannot enter into a MWA.

Modified Work Arrangement Conditions

Modified work arrangements must adhere to the following conditions:

  • be in writing;
  • be signed by the employer and employee, or a majority of the employees;
  • specify the number of weeks over which the hours will be averaged;
  • specify the daily hours of work after which an employee becomes entitled to overtime;
  • specify the work schedule that reflects the daily and weekly hours agreed to by the parties;
  • provide for a start date and an expiry date for the modified work agreement; and
  • be in place at least one week before any work schedule changes.

In addition, agreements:

  • Cannot exceed two years in length.
  • Cannot require employees to work in excess of 12 hours in a day without overtime pay.
  • Must be given to employees and/or posted in the workplace.

Once the conditions are met, the employer must give all employees affected by the MWA at least one week’s notice of schedule changes prior to the agreement coming into effect.

Once in effect, the MWA binds the individual or group of employees for the agreement’s duration. If an employee quits or is dismissed, any new employee replacement is immediately covered by the MWA. If new employees are hired into a MWA workplace, the new employees are covered by the MWA.

A sample Modified Work Arrangement Template can be found in the Related Items below.

Example of a Modified Work Arrangement

Following these rules and conditions, the standard work week can be modified from this:

 Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
  8 8 8 8 8  

To this (an agreement to average hours over a week, with overtime after 12 hours in a day):

 Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
12 12 12 4      

Or this (an agreement to average hours over two weeks, with overtime after 12 hours in a day):

Sunday
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
  12 12 12 12    
 Sunday Monday
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
   12 12 8      

In the above examples, no overtime rates apply. Overtime rates are to be paid to employees who work in excess of the daily or weekly averages - 12 hours in a day, or 40 weekly or 80 bi-weekly.

Failure to Meet Conditions

The regular overtime rules apply if any of the required conditions set out in the regulations are not met or maintained.

For example, if an employer implements an averaging system without consulting its employees, a MWA does not exist as there is no agreement in writing. As a result, all the regular overtime rules regarding the standard work week would apply.

Unions

Unions may negotiate MWAs as long as overtime is paid when an employee’s hours of work exceed the 40 hours per week average.

Other Permits

Modified work arrangements do not replace other permits or variances. A permit from the Director of Employment Standards would still be required by an employer who wishes to arrange a longer averaging period than allowed by an MWA; or wishes to vary the rules for schedules and days off per week.

For example, an employer that operates in a remote location and would like their employees to work more than 12 days in a row would still need to apply for a Director’s Permit to authorize this type of hours of work arrangement.

Please see Permit and Variances for more information about the different employment standards permits and variances. 

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