At my workplace, we can get paid for a maximum of 15 hours per week (they refuse to pay us anything beyond that), however, they indirectly expect us to work more than that (by giving us tasks, and deadlines which can not possibly be done in 15 hours)

If we work more than 15 hours in a week, we are asked to put the hours in our next pay-period. The problem is we are constantly over 15 hours, and have accumulated many hours over our work term.

Also, the job is live in, and the money we make from working at this job is not nearly enough to even cover the rent (which is the real reason we are seeking legal advice to bring up with our management).

We are contract workers, and have no union, if that helps.

Is this a violation of any kind, and what action should we take?

Thanks in advance for your help!


My workplace is in Ontario, Canada.

We are basically expected to work beyond the 15 hour limit.

Hope this helps.

  • It sounds in violation of labor laws, but it is essential to know in which jurisdiction you are located because laws and procedures are different across states/countries. May 11, 2019 at 13:25
  • In what country/jurisdiction?
    – user52889
    May 11, 2019 at 13:25
  • Please please tell us which country this is. In the hotel industry it is quite common that you live in, but unusual that it would be combined with 15 hour week. In these cases the accomodation is usually free, but added to your salary for tax purposes.
    – gnasher729
    May 11, 2019 at 13:27
  • 1
    Notwithstanding the rest, routinely reporting your hours inaccurately is almost certainly illegal and can get you in trouble along with the company. May 11, 2019 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


The first question would be whether you are an employee, or an independent contractor. There is more to that determination than how the company labels you, but that is a starting point. Based on the minimal autonomy that you imply that you have, you would probably be found to be an employee. Then there are limits on the number of hours that you can work in a week or day, which they are complying with. The employer is required to record the hours that you worked, and it is a crime to keep false records. It is also required that an employer pay for the time you work. Therefore the employer cannot legally refuse to pay you for your labor, and they cannot legally falsify records.

The employer can limit your pay to 15 hours per week, if you work just 15 hours per week. They can also set ridiculous performance standards, whereby at the end of the week you will not have done what they wanted you to do. Their only recourse is to dismiss you. In response, you can file a complaint, but note that the concept of "wrongful dismissal" under the act is about entitlement to termination or severance pay. The arbitrator may find that the employer contravened the act, and can order them to rescind the termination. Or, before you get fired, you can complain and the arbitrator could order the employer to either modify their work requirements or else to pay you for the time worked.

The difficult point (for you) in this case is that the act does not address employer performance expectations, and employers are generally allowed to set their own performance standards. If you have a written employment contract, there might be provisions regarding termination which could help you. Without a written contact, there is no statutory provision that prevents an employer for terminating you, but they may have to give you notice and pay for doing so, as long as you are not terminated for "just cause". Hoang v. Mann, 2014 ONSC 3762 is an Ontario case where an employee was terminated for just case based on insubordination, job performance, inability to get along with co-workers and so on. On the front of job performance, the courts have found that an employer must clearly communicate standards to employees, and give employees an opportunity to meet those standards. But they do not generally decide e.g. how many units per hour an assembly-line worker can reasonably be expected to complete.

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