At 4.4 per cent, Alberta has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. But more than just working a lot of jobs, many Albertans work longer hours as well.
In August of 2012, the average number of hours of paid overtime worked by employees was 11.7—which is the highest in the country and well above the national average of 9.0 hours of paid overtime. Employees who are paid additional wages for their overtime hours are often compensated with time-and-a-half, double, or even triple time, particularly for unionized employees with negotiated wages.
But it turns out that if you take away the “paid” part of the overtime arrangement, Albertans are no longer the leaders in the country for overtime hours worked. For employees without additional pay (such as salaried workers) overtime drops to 8.0 hours in Alberta. That’s only slightly higher than the national average of 7.8 hours, and below the leaders for unpaid overtime in Prince Edward Island (9.0 hours) and Newfoundland and Labrador (8.3 hours).
For the economy, there are pros and cons to working so many hours of overtime (paid or unpaid). The pro is that employers are able to be more flexible with their staffing arrangements—they aren’t forced to bring on more staff to meet a temporary uptick in demand (only to lay them off when the demand falls). But the downside is that workers can suffer burn-out. Working too hard can lead to stress, illness, and even at work safety hazards.*
*Courtesy of Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist, ATB Financial