Archived [2009-04-01] - Maximum Hours of Work Policy

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Policy objective

To maintain standards on maximum hours of work for the Public Service similar to those contained in the Canada Labour Code.

Policy statement

The maximum number of hours that may be worked in a week by a Public Service employee is 48 hours unless exceptional conditions prevail which would hinder a department's ability to serve the public or operate efficiently.


This policy applies to all departments and other portions of the Public Service listed in Part I of Schedule I of the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

Policy requirements

Exceptions to this policy may be authorized by deputy heads or their delegates in extraordinary or unusual circumstances, such as the following:

Irregular work schedule

Where the nature of the work necessitates irregular distribution or periodic fluctuations of an employee's hours of work, and adherence to a maximum of 48 hours could be seriously detrimental to departmental operations.

For this purpose, deputy heads or their delegates must select a period of time over which to average the weekly hours of work provided that the period selected is limited to the shortest length of time which is practical considering operational requirements, and that the weekly hours of work do not exceed 48 when calculated as an average for the period selected.

Unforeseen emergency situations

Where unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances arise.

Work in remote locations

When departments are engaged in work at remote locations and continuously require the services of personnel in excess of 48 hours per week.


Departments must maintain records on all exceptions authorized, including the specific reason(s) for the exception; the location; the number, occupational groups and levels of the employees concerned; and the number of hours in excess of 48 hours per week worked by each employee. Complaints relative to the use of exceptions must also be recorded.


Relevant Terms and Conditions of Employment Policy

Variable Work Week Policy

Flexible Hours of Work Policy

Management of Overtime Policy

Collective Agreements

Canada Labour Code (Part III, Section I)


Enquiries about this policy should be referred to the responsible officers in departmental headquarters who, in turn, may direct questions regarding policy interpretation to:

Pay Administration
Labour Relations
Human Resources Branch
Treasury Board Secretariat