Category Archives: Tips

Can You Get Fired for Refusing to Work Overtime?

Can You Get Fired for Refusing to Work Overtime?
In British Columbia, Canada, the Employment Standards Act defines the minimum standards of employment that apply to most workplaces in the province. Every province in Canada will have similar acts that outline expectations of employers and employees, though these standards may vary from one place to another. While the Employment Standards Act provides guidelines for most industries, there are special rules to industries such as high technology, agriculture, taxis, log harvesting, silviculture, and the oil and gas sectors. With respect to refusing to work overtime, the Employment Standards Act outlines an employee’s rights. So, can you get fired for refusing to work overtime?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that under the Employment Standards Act, an employer may terminate an employee for any reason provided sufficient notice or compensation is provided. So then, what is sufficient notice? This depends on your length of service.

After 3 consecutive months employed, your employer is required to provide one week’s notice or compensation equal to one week of pay. After 12 consecutive months of employment, you would be entitled to two weeks’ notice or compensation of two weeks’ pay. At three consecutive years of employment, you would be entitled to 3 weeks’ notice or 3 weeks’ pay. After 3 years of employment, notice or compensation increases by one week for each added year of employment to a maximum of 8 weeks.

As you can see, regardless of whether you refuse to work overtime, your employer can terminate you for any reason as long as they provide adequate notice or compensation. In fact, an employer may require employees to work overtime, but they must pay appropriate overtime wages and hours worked cannot be a health and safety hazard. While the BC Employment Standards Act states that an employer cannot expect staff to work excessive hours, it does not explicitly define excessive hours. That being said, the Act does define that an employer provides staff with adequate time away from work and stipulates at least 8 hours free from work between shifts worked.

The Act also defines overtime wages. Unless you are subject to an averaging agreement, employees are entitled to 1.5 times their usual pay for time worked over 8 hours, and double their usual pay for time over 1w hours. Additionally, employees are entitled to 1.5 times their usual pay for time worked over 40 hours per week.

Still, while there are no explicit rules against requiring employees to work overtime and an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, if you feel you are wrongfully dismissed from employment because of your refusal to work under unsafe conditions, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to ensure your rights have not been contravened.

What to Look for in a Labour Lawyer

What to Look for in a Labour Lawyer

Employees and employers across industries and including freelancers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and contractors seek labour law specialists to provide advice on every step of the employment process. Labour lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to ensure your rights are protected whichever side of the coin you land on. If you are experiencing workplace challenges, setting out to sign an employment contract, or you want to know more about employment law, a good labour lawyer can help. But, what do you look for in a labour lawyer?

The Consultation

First and foremost, when you reach out to a labour lawyer, they should be willing to meet with you to have a consultation about their services. You want to talk to the lawyer who will be working with you rather than another staff member, student, or paralegal because you want to know more about the lawyer’s skills and expertise. During the consultation, the lawyer should provide information about the cost of services, potential outcomes, and a general sense of how they would handle your case. You should be wary of any lawyer that makes grandiose claims or promises, and look for a lawyer that is knowledgeable, accessible, and honest.

A Good Fit

During your consultation, you should also determine if you have a good fit with the lawyer. Do you feel that you can communicate easily with them or that they offer trustworthy advice? If you’re going to be working with this lawyer for the long term, you want to know your personalities are a good fit. Many people underestimate the importance of a good working relationship with their lawyer.

Referrals

Don’t just go on the word of potential lawyers. Speak to friends, colleagues, and trusted confidants about recommendations for a good lawyer. If you don’t know anybody that can refer you to a labour lawyer, do some online research and see what past clients have to say.

Expertise is Key

Obviously, you want to work with a labour lawyer with an excellent track record, but you also want to know they have expertise with your type of case. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about previous experience before you provide details about your case – this will help you get a sense of whether that particular lawyer has experience in your field.

Common Sense

Finally, use your common sense and choose a labour lawyer that fits well with your general needs. For example, working with a local lawyer whose fees are within your budget is very important. You need to know that you can access services and that you won’t be left high and dry half way through your case. If you can’t afford a lawyer or you have to travel long distances to access their services, you’re not going to get what you need from the relationship. That’s just common sense.

Things to Look for when Hiring a Labour Lawyer

Things-to-Look-for-when-Hiring-a-Labour-Lawyer

Just as you would expect variability in the skills and service of any professional, not all labour lawyers provide the same level of service.  So, what are some things to look for when hiring a labour lawyer?

Experience

It probably goes without saying that labour law is a specialized field and your lawyer should absolutely have experience with labour law.  You want to know that your lawyer is successful and can provide evidence of this success.  Labour lawyers are even further specialized, and some may have unique expertise in areas such as wrongful dismissal, human rights complaints, or negotiating employment contracts.  Take the time to ensure your lawyer not only has experience in employment law, but also the area in which you need assistance.

Integrity

Sometimes professionals in any field will say just about anything to land a client, and this can happen in law as well.  You want to know you can trust your lawyer and that they are giving you realistic advice.  Bold predictions or understated costs should be faced with some skepticism on the part of the client.  Seek realistic advice that is based on a comprehensive review of your case and associated legislation.

Communication

Legalese can be difficult to navigate, so your lawyer needs to be able to communicate with you in terms you understand.  But, beyond putting the law into lay terms, you also want to be able to communicate effectively with your lawyer.  Are your questions answered in a timely manner?  Can you contact your lawyer when you need them?  Remember that good communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and your communication needs are of primary importance – you’re the client!

Support

Your legal journey may be a difficult one.  Though the law should be objective, the experience of the law is not.  The most effective lawyers argue your case with compassion and empathy.  When it comes to labour law, your lawyer should be sensitive to your concerns regarding employment and the greater impact this has on your life.

Professional

Professionalism in law requires representatives to be organized and goal oriented.  Timelines should be well-organized, advice should be delivered clearly, and schedules should be treated with the utmost respect.  You can get a quick gauge of a labour lawyer’s professionalism by simply visiting their offices.  Are the spaces maintained in a clean and orderly fashion, or are their piles of files and papers seemingly askew?  Is support staff clear and concise in their communications?  You shouldn’t always judge a book by it’s cover, but if you enter a law office and things are obviously disorganized, take this as a red flag.

You should always speak with at least two potential lawyers before finally hiring your labour lawyer.  These tips should help you choose somebody who will represent you effectively, but at the end of the day you should also trust your instincts to a degree.  Choose the lawyer that represents the values of the profession while also meeting your personal needs.