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As a domestic worker, how can I collect unpaid overtime wages from my employer?

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As a domestic worker, how can I collect unpaid overtime wages from my employer?
For the past eight months, I've worked as a domestic taking care of my employer's child. I often work 80+ hours per week, overnight and on weekends but I haven't received any overtime pay. What can I do about this?

Domestic worker overtime pay - Trevor Thomas' answer

Under the law in BC, a "domestic" is defined as someone who:

  • is employed at an employer's private residence to provide cooking, cleaning, child care or other prescribed services, and 
  • resides at the employer's private residence.

An employer and a domestic worker must have a signed, written contract before work begins. The contract must set out:

  • the domestic worker's duties
  • the hours and days the domestic worker will work in a week
  • the wage rate (which must be at least the minimum wage rate)
  • when wages will be paid
  • charges for room and board

Hours of work 

The employer has the right to set the domestic worker's schedule, and must keep a record of daily hours worked. However, since domestic workers may live in their employer's home, the line between being "at work" and "not at work" is not always clear. If the employer asks the domestic worker to babysit or perform other duties outside of the number of hours in the contract, that time is work and must be paid. 

Overtime pay

Domestic workers are entitled to overtime pay, statutory holiday pay and vacation pay.

Both the number of hours worked in a day and the number of hours worked in a week must be looked at when calculating overtime. After working eight hours in a day a worker must be paid time-and-a-half for the next four hours worked, and double time for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a day. A worker who works more than 40 hours in a week must be paid time-and-a-half after 40 hours. This applies even if the worker never works more than eight hours in a day.

Next steps

In your case, you can make a written complaint to the Employment Standards Branch that your employer did not pay you for the overtime hours that you worked. The complaint must be filed within six months after the last day of your employment. In your complaint, you should refer to the contract between you and your former employer, and any records or documents that you have kept about the amount of overtime hours that you worked.

Written September 4, 2018

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