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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 a week with a public holiday).

Modified Work Arrangements

An MWA is an agreement between the employer and an employee or a group of employees that allows work time to be compressed in one, two, three or four week cycles. In return, employees get longer periods of time off from work. Employees working on average less than 30 hours per week cannot be part of an MWA.

MWAs do not require a permit from the Director of Employment Standards.

MWAs may include one of four options for averaging periods:

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

Modified Work Arrangement Conditions

MWA agreements 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 MWA; and
  • be in place at least one week before any work schedule changes.

Please note the work schedule must match the overtime terms in the MWA.

For example, if the employer and employees agree to an MWA with 12 hour days over two weeks and the employer schedules the employees to work variable hours such as 8, 6, 10, 12, 14, the MWA will not apply. Regular overtime rules would apply since the hours worked do not match the schedule in the MWA.

In addition, agreements:

  • cannot exceed two years in length;
  • cannot require employees to work more than 12 hours in a 24 hour period without overtime pay; and
  • must be given to employees and/or posted in the workplace.

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

A link to a sample MWA template can be found 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 an agreement to average 40 hours over a week, with overtime after 12 hours in a day. In this example, employees must be scheduled to work three 12-hour days and one four-hour day during the one-week averaging period. Overtime would be payable for any work performed after 12 hours in any day or work performed after 40 hours in the one week averaging period.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
12 12 12 4


Or an agreement to average 80 hours over two weeks, with overtime after 12 hours in a day). In this example employees must be scheduled to work a combination of 12-hour days and one eight-hour day during the two-week averaging period. Overtime would be payable for any work performed after 12 hours in any day or work performed after 80 hours in the two week averaging period.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

12 12 12 12


12 12 8


Failure to Meet Conditions

The regular overtime rules apply if any of the required conditions set out in the Employment Standards Regulations are not met or maintained. All modified work agreements must be in writing and kept on file by the employer. Please refer to the MWA template for more information on the requirements for written agreements.

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.

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

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