There are weeks in my role as executive director when the same troubling issue comes forward multiple times.
Maya (not her real name), one of our new members, told me that she routinely works 15-20 extra hours each week and is terrified to claim her extra hours as overtime. Her supervisor tells her not to track her hours — maybe Maya can take a day here or there because there’s no department budget to pay Maya at time-and-a-half for her extra work. “I’m afraid to claim my extra hours,” said Maya, “I haven’t even passed my probation yet. I'm just so afraid.”
And then Veda (also not her real name) came to see me the next day. Veda had worked at SFU for twenty-two years and put in 500-600 extra hours for each of those years, which she never claimed as overtime. “That was the ethos of our department,” she said, “you worked until the job was done and the workload was always heavy. I was loyal to SFU and my department. They even started promising me a director role.” As it happened, the directorship never materialized, and Veda never received a penny for all her extra hours over her career at SFU. Veda feels upset that the University didn’t reciprocate her longtime loyalty.
I wish such examples at the University were uncommon.
Unfortunately, they’re not.
Signs you might be working for free
Many of our members work overtime. Many of our members never claim that overtime. Many of our members work to get the job done, no matter how many hours it takes. What invariably happens is that these overtime hours make up for the thin resourcing across too many units at the University. And because our members donate so many hours to the University, the very real resourcing issues remain obscured.
I can also understand the pressures on so many of our members who lead and supervise. When the University was compelled to accept that B.C.'s Employment Standards Act (ESA) applied to our members and the obligation to compensate our members for overtime was the new reality, the University didn’t increase unit budgets to compensate: overtime compensation had to be found in existing budgets. And so, with little or no support, supervisors are left to juggle the operational demands of their units, the lack of resources and their obligations under the law. In many cases, University training about the ESA and overtime for supervisors who must administer the ESA is also ill-resourced (see below for some resources to help guide you...).
It’s a tough place to be in.
Regardless of your situation, you don’t need to work for free. The above examples, while not fully fleshed out to preserve confidentiality, run afoul of the ESA. Both Maya and Veda are being pressured to volunteer their extra time for the University — sometimes subtly, sometimes not.
It’s not right.
Like so many examples where our members’ rights to fair compensation aren’t being honoured by the University, we rely on you coming forward. We can help you; we can steer you through this. We’ve helped numerous members get paid for their overtime.
Real estate prices and rents are only going up. Inflation is at a thirty-year high. You’re not only legally entitled to fair compensation for your extra hours — increasingly, you’re going to need it.
Come see us.
Resources for APSA Managers and Non-Managers