The BC Supreme Court recently held that the six month post-termination limitation period applicable to overtime claims under the Employment Standards Act(ESA) did not preclude a four year old civil claim for overtime pay.
A truck driver brought an action against his former employer claiming overtime rates for 1,581 hours for which he had received straight time pay. The claim was based on overtime entitlements set out in the ESA. However, the ESA requires that a claim for overtime must be brought within six months of an employee’s last day of employment. As a result, the employer argued that the claim should be dismissed because it was out of time by more than two years.
The Court found that the employee’s right to overtime pay under the ESA was incorporated into his common law employment contract. However, this contractual entitlement was not subject to the corresponding statutory limitation period set out in the ESA. The Court reasoned that the purpose of the limitation period in the ESA is to limit access to the ESA’s inexpensive, expedited claim process. Employees are free to pursue claims in the courts based on ESA entitlements subject only to common law limitation periods. Therefore, the employee’s court claim for overtime pay, like any contract claim, was subject to a six year limitation period.