An Hour Worked from Home Is an Hour of Work

If an employer permits an employee to work from home, that time spent working from home is still time spent on the job. It counts as an hour of work under the Employment Standards Act.

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For many employment standards under the Employment Standards Act, determining whether an employer has violated or complied with the standard will involve a consideration of the hours worked by the employee. Take for example rights related to payment of wages, hours of work and eating periods, overtime pay, minimum wage, or holiday pay.

As technology makes it easier and more common for employees to work from home, employers and employees should remember that time spent working outside the office is still work time. An employer cannot refuse to pay an employee for work that the employee does from home.

The Employment Standards Act requires employees to be paid for hours worked. Failing to do so violates the requirement to "pay wages" under s. 11 of the Act. The guiding principle for whether or not time spent by an employee constitutes an hour of work is whether the employer has "permitted or suffered work to be done" (see O. Reg. 285/01, s. 1.1). In other words, if the employer allowed you to perform work, then it counts as a work hour for which you must be paid.

Employers can give directions to employees about the times and places they perform work. But if an employee performs work contrary to those instructions, that time will still count as work time for employment standards purposes. If a worker persistently disobeys an employer’s instructions about work schedules, this could be a basis for the employer to eventually terminate the employee’s employment (even arguably for cause or without termination pay). But all time worked counts as hours of work for the employment standards purposes, and the employer cannot refuse payment of wages owed based on those hours worked.


 

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