1. Unpaid overtime is illegal in B.C. If your employer wants you to work overtime, they must pay you.
2. Take notes! Keep track of all your hours worked and why you had to stay late. Make notes if your boss asks you to stay late or come in on weekends. If you get any feedback – praising or criticizing your work – write that down, too. Those notes can be crucial in getting paid later or protecting your from unfair discrimination in the workplace.
3. “But what if I signed a contract that says I’m exempt from overtime?” Doesn’t matter. Your company cannot draft a contract that overwrites provincial law. You’re still entitled to the minimum protections under the Employment Standards Act, so that means if you work more than eight hours in a day, you get time and a half. If you work more than 12, you get double time. Here are the rules.
4. “But what if I signed a contract stating I’m a ‘high tech’ employee?” Our opinion is animators, VFX artists and game developers shouldn’t be considered high tech employees, but the Employment Standards Branch decides on a case-by-case basis and has previously ruled a VFX artist was, in fact, a high tech worker. (Click here for the Employment Standards high tech/VFX decision.) If you are are considered a high tech worker, you’re kind of screwed, because rules for stat holidays, set hours of work and overtime don’t apply. (Click here for the definition of high tech.) But don’t despair! You can always file a complaint with Employment Standards and challenge your employer’s high tech claim. If you want to remain anonymous, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll file a third party complaint for you. Better yet, you can talk to us about forming a union to negotiate better contracts.
5. “Arg! I’m still working overtime. It’s the only way to get the job done!” Working for free undermines yourself and everyone else in the industry. It’s a race to the bottom. The company you work for is a profit-seeking business and should not rely on volunteers to finish the job.
If you’re in the VFX, animation or gaming industry and need help with an unpaid overtime claim, email email@example.com. We can offer confidential help with Employment Standards Branch complaints.