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THE QUESTION

I turned down a job offer recently because the company owner insisted that "managers" on salary are not entitled to overtime pay. She would provide time off in lieu, but only if the district was performing to her satisfaction.

I thought this sounded fishy and possibly in conflict with the provincial Employment Standards Act. Also, the terms seemed way too skewed to the discretion of the employer to be fair. Work weeks of 50 to 70 hours were possible without a defined remedy. A friend who works in management as a supervisor disagrees with me, but many people have different takes on this matter.

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THE FIRST ANSWER

Greg Conner

Executive director of human resources, BC Transit, Victoria

Each province regulates its own employment standards and, loosely paraphrasing across jurisdictions, a manager is a person whose primary role is to supervise or direct employees, and/or other company resources.

In those cases, managers are generally exempted from employment provisions on overtime and pay for hours worked. That said, if as a manager you take on a job that pays you $75,000 a year with an expectation you will work about 50 hours a week, you would likely be entitled to straight-time compensation for hours worked over and above that average.

In this case, if you had taken this role knowing that you would work from 50 to 70 hours a week and that any compensation (whether paid or time off in lieu) would be at the sole discretion of your supervisor, then you are in my opinion accepting the terms and conditions as she outlined.

Fair and reasonable? Not a chance, but not illegal. Calling someone a manager just to avoid the provisions of employments standards on pay and overtime is a whole other discussion.

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From my direct experience, jobs with these extreme hours don't result in the intended effect of being cost effective and productive. Rather, they breed resentment and disengagement, especially when those managers compare themselves with regular employees who not only get paid for all hours worked, but are also entitled to overtime. Hardly a recipe for long-term organizational success. In my opinion, you made the right choice.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer, career specialist and author, Toronto

You made your decision based on what you deemed to be fair and what is in line with your values. Feel fortunate that the company told you before you took the job that they required overtime without compensation. The owner sounds like a control freak; it appears you did the smart thing by turning down the job.

When you are paid a salary in a management position, it is common that a company not pay overtime or time in lieu. If you can't negotiate your terms in the interview, you aren't going to get what you want once you start working.

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When you interview for a position, it is important for your happiness and sustainability within the company that you compare the company's values with yours. Salary and perks are only a part of the picture. The most contented employees are those who are respected and rewarded for their contributions beyond monetary compensation. If the commute is too long, don't take the job; if the company's views on social responsibility doesn't match yours, don't take the job. If the hours are long and the pay is very generous, and you are motivated by money, possibly take the job. The owner's attitude scared me. Keep looking.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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