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Modified Work Arrangements

Employers and employees can agree to average the hours of work for up to a four-week period. Modified work arrangements expire after two years.

In some situations workplaces may need an averaging of hours permit, not a modified work arrangement. A permit requires approval from the Director of Employment Standards. A modified work arrangement does not.


1. What is a Modified Work Arrangement (MWA)?

A modified work arrangement (MWA) is an agreement on a set schedule between the employer and an employee or a group of employees that averages hours of work over a designated period of time. This arrangement is modified from the standard eight hours a day and 40 hours per week of hours of work before overtime. The MWA is an agreement, not a permit. MWAs increase workplace flexibility by allowing employers and employees to compress work time in return for more time off for employees.

The MWA must state when overtime will apply, but the arrangement can’t exceed more than 12 hours worked in a 24 hour period (i.e. a day). Schedules that vary hours week to week may not be appropriate for an MWA. An MWA is applicable to work schedules that are set and agreed to in advance.

An MWA may average:

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

An MWA allows employees to work more hours in one part of an averaging period in return for more time off in another part of the same averaging period. Overtime applies once employees work more hours than stated in the MWA’s daily limit or averaging period.

A permit from the Director of Employment Standards is required for a schedule that has an averaging of hours period longer than four weeks.

Examples of a Modified Work Arrangement

Using an MWA, 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 work a set schedule of 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 a day (and eight hours on the second Wednesday) or work performed after 80 hours in the two week averaging period. If the eight-hour shift is earlier in the rotation, overtime is owed if the employee works more than eight hours on that day.

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

2. Requirements for MWA Agreements

Agreements must:

  • be in writing;
  • be signed by the employer and employees agreeing to the arrangement, or a majority of the employees affected;
  • 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 (this must match the affected employee's daily schedule);
  • specify the work schedule that reflects the daily and weekly hours agreed to by the parties;
  • provide 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 be longer than two years;
  • cannot require employees to work more than 12 hours in a day without overtime pay; and
  • must be given to all employees covered by the agreement, and/or posted in the workplace.

Regular overtime rules apply if the conditions set out in the modified work arrangement are not met or maintained.

A permit from the Director of Employment Standards is required to arrange an averaging period longer than allowed by a MWA, or wishes to vary the rules for days off per week.

A collective agreement's hours of work provisions are also considered a MWA, however the above requirements are not needed as they will be covered in the collective agreement

Managerial and professional staff are exempt from overtime so can't be part of a MWA.

Part-time Employees Working Less Than 30 Hours Per Week

Employees working on average less than 30 hours per week cannot be part of a MWA. They can participate in a time bank agreement.

Non-unionized employees working less than 30 hours per week are entitled to overtime after working more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week (32 hours in a week with a public holiday).

Unionized employees usually receive overtime based on their collective bargaining agreement.

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