Interpretation Guidelines Manual British Columbia Employment Standards Act and Regulations


ESA Section 39 – No excessive hours


Text of Legislation
Policy Interpretation
Related Information


This section explains an employer’s obligation to ensure that employees do not work excessive hours or hours detrimental to an employee’s health or safety.

Text of Legislation

39. Despite any provision of this Part, an employer must not require or directly or indirectly allow an employee to work excessive hours or hours detrimental to the employee's health or safety.

Policy Interpretation

When the director is satisfied that an employee’s health or safety is at risk; these hours may be restricted under s.79(3) of the Act. The director may require the employer to limit hours of work and may impose terms and conditions that the director considers appropriate. Where a determination is issued under s.79 (3), an escalating monetary penalty will be imposed, subject to s.98.

Under s.81(2) of the Act, where a determination has been issued under this section limiting hours of work, an employer must display a copy of the determination in each workplace where affected employees can read it.

Employees covered by a collective agreement

Under s.3 of the Act, where a collective agreement contains any provision respecting hours of work or overtime, the provisions of this section do not apply. If a collective agreement does not contain any provision respecting hours of work or overtime, Part 4 except s.37 is deemed to be incorporated in the collective agreement as part of its terms.

Where there is a collective agreement, the enforcement of matters relating to hours of work or overtime is through the grievance procedure, not through the enforcement provisions of the Act.

Certain employees are also exempt from this section, or Part 4 entirely, under the Employment Standards Regulation.

Related Information

Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Chief Electoral Officer: EST #071/10

Related sections of the Act or Regulation




See Employment Standards Factsheets


Hours of Work and Overtime

Collective Agreements and the Employment Standards Act

Enforcement Measures and Penalties