Circumstances Didn’t Justify Having Engineers Work More than 48 Hours/Week

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A union filed a grievance, claiming that a company permitted or required operating engineers to work more than 48 hours a week in violation of the collective agreement and the Employment Standards Act. The arbitrator agreed. Employers may let workers  work beyond the statutory maximum only in unusual circumstances that are serious and require immediate attention. A power outage did justify the extra hours for a short time. But long hours once the situation was stabilized were a result of “poor business planning,” which isn’t an unusual circumstance, said the arbitrator. In addition, the company had other options, such as hiring more engineers [Essar Steel Algoma Inc. v. United Steelworkers, Local Union 2251, [2011] CanLII 11608 (ON L.A.), March 8, 2011].