Can my employer ask me to agree to different rules about overtime?

Your employer might ask you to sign an agreement with rules that are different than the general rules in the ESA about overtime.

An employer could ask you to agree to:

  • take paid time off instead of getting overtime pay
  • “average” your overtime hours

Agreeing to paid time off

You can agree to get overtime as paid time off instead of overtime pay. This means you get 1½ hours of time off for every hour of overtime that you work.

You must get this time off within 3 months of the week in which you earn it. This does not apply if you sign an agreement with your employer to get the time off within 12 months.

Agreeing to “average” overtime

You can agree to have your overtime “averaged”. This means you get overtime pay on the average number of overtime hours you work during a period of 2 weeks or more, up to a maximum of 4 weeks. You do not get it on the actual number of overtime hours you work in each week.

Employers use averaging agreements to avoid paying overtime. If you sign an averaging agreement, you get less for your overtime.

Overtime averaging agreements must be signed and dated, include expiry dates, and cannot last more than 2 years.

Compare overtime with or without an averaging agreement

In most jobs, the hours you work over 44 hours a week are overtime hours.

The following examples compare how much overtime pay you get with or without an averaging agreement if:

  • your regular work week is 35 hours
  • you work a total of 180 hours in 4 weeks

If you did not sign an averaging agreement:

If you did not sign an agreement to “average” your overtime over 4 weeks, your total number of overtime hours for the 4-week period would be 22.

Paid as

actual hours
over 44
Week 1 35 0
Week 2 50 6
Week 3 60 16
Week 4 35 0
TOTAL 180 22


If you did sign an averaging agreement:

To find out your average overtime hours in the 4-week period, take the total number of hours you worked in the 4 weeks and divide by 4.

Then subtract the 44 hours you must work in a week to qualify for overtime. This gives you the “average” number of overtime hours per week. Then you multiply this by 4 to get the averaged number of overtime hours for the 4-week period.

In this example, you only get overtime pay for 4 hours.

Calculation for averaging
total number of paid
overtime hours
Week 1 35 180 hours ÷ 4 weeks = 45 hours
45 hours – 44 hours = 1 hour
1 hour x 4 weeks = 4 hours
Week 2 50
Week 3 60
Week 4 35
TOTAL 180 paid as overtime
average hours over 44 = 4


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