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Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan said both employers and employees are asking for the legislative changes his government is introducing. (Stefani Langenegger/CBC)

New Saskatchewan work rules that mean some employees might have to work more than 12 hours a day before overtime kicks in are now in effect.

Until today, people who worked more than eight hours a day were entitled to time and a half for the extra hours.

However, with a bundle of Saskatchewan Employment Act regulations now approved, that can change — under certain circumstances.

If employers and employees agree, longer days without overtime are possible as long as the weekly total doesn't exceed 40 hours.

For example, eight hours a day over five days could be treated the same as 10 hours a day over four days.

Saskatchewan Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan says both employers and employees asked for that kind of flexibility.

"It wasn't a matter of the employer saying we want this to happen. It was a matter of the employee saying I want to spend a greater amount of time with my family and I want to be able to have flexibility so I do this so I can do that," Morgan said.

Morgan says more than 50 percent of a workplace would need to favor allowing a 12 hour work day without overtime pay.
Also including in the labour changes:

  • The minimum wage, currently $10 an hour and set to rise to $10.20 in the fall, will be indexed by inflation in future.
  • Time banks for overtime hours would be permitted, if the employer and employee or group of employees agree to it.
  • A recognition that interns have all the rights and obligations of other employees.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour said it had a number of questions about the legislation and is concerned the rights of working people could be adversely affected.

"As currently written, the SEA could potentially mean thousands of Saskatchewan people are driven out of their organizations and that thousands more will be prohibited from exercising their constitutional right to join a union," SFL president Larry Hubich said in a news release.

The province's essential services law, the Public Service Essential Services Act, is embroiled in a labour-government legal dispute and is not included in the SEA legislation.  

It will be updated after the Supreme Court of Canada rules on essential services.