Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees in British Columbia

There are some critical differences between exempt and non-exempt employees in Ontario that can pose unique challenges when hiring and onboarding for certain roles. We’ve broken down the differences for you so you can make smart hiring decisions when recruiting British Columbia-based talent.  

Exempt Employees in BC

Exempt employees work in roles that are not protected under Canadian employment laws.

In British Columbia (BC), this means they are not covered under the Employment Standards Act, and therefore they do not receive standard provincial minimum wages and overtime.

Looking at which positions are exempt is not a perfect science, and generally works case by case.

But many of the roles that are included fall under the category of what we call “white collar exemptions.” These are often (but not always) high-earning, high-skilled, salaried, or managerial roles.

Exempt roles can include:

  • Professional Roles (Architect, Chartered Professional Accountant, etc.)
  • Managers
  • Lawyers
  • Engineers

And more. Take a look at the full list of professions and occupations excluded from the Act here.

Exempt Overtime:

Which positions receive overtime pay can be case-by-case. Not every BC employee is entitled to be paid overtime. In general, exemptions are in place for higher-paid employees like management, workers in specialized industries, and caretaking roles. 

You can find a full list of BC’s exempt jobs in the Employment Standards Regulation

Sometimes these specialized employees do get compensation for working over the standard eight-hour working day. Just not at the typical time and a half rate.

Non-Exempt in BC 

Non-exempt employees in BC are protected under Canadian employment laws and regulations.

Most employees in BC fall under the non-exempt category. Think retail employees, standard shift workers, and fields of work that require less schooling or specialization.

If your BC employees are non-exempt, they are entitled to:

  • Meal breaks: A 30-minute unpaid break after 5 working hours
  • Overtime pay: Time and a half pay (1.5x their regular hourly wage applied to the hours worked overtime and 2x their hourly wage for any hours worked in excess of a 12-hour shift).

Classification Risks

It can be easy to assume all salaried workers are exempt and all employees making an hourly BC wage are non-exempt.

Although you may see a trend with managers more likely to be in the exempt category, sometimes exempt employees still require overtime or extra pay. 

Say you had a team member making a $55,000 salary yearly for an assumed 55-hour repeating work week.

If your employee worked 65 hours one week. They would be entitled to compensation for 10 hours over their regular working hours of 55 hours a week.

Salaried employees classed as “managers” can accrue overtime pay for overtime hours worked, but not at the standard overtime rate of employees (non-exempt) covered by the Employment Standards Act.

Instead, overtime coverage for these workers is usually compensated at the manager’s regular rate (calculated based on their yearly salary). 

Cases like this show that you need to be cautious when having your employees do overtime hours.

Even if they are technically exempt, you’re still required to pay your employees for all their time worked even if they’re salaried.


Exempt or non-exempt, we want to make sure all your BC-based employees are paid compliantly.

Book your demo with us to see how Borderless does quick and compliant payment for all employees better and at an affordable rate for your company.

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