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B.C.'S UNION SINCE 1919

Reminder about Breaks and Overtime at BC Family Maintenance Agency (BC FMA) - BCGEU


Taking Breaks and Leaving On Time

During the President's visit on February 4, your Union heard your concerns about struggling with unmanageable workloads, as well as frustration with the ongoing vacancies at BC FMA. In some cases, members reported working through their breaks and performing unpaid overtime to compensate for the ever-increasing workload due to vacancies. 

President Stephanie Smith urged you all to stand together in solidarity and stop this practice. As she explained, working through breaks and not exercising your rights related to overtime is not the best way to resolve workload issues. It only masks the problem of increased workloads and the need to hire more staff. 

Your Rights

As a Union member, you have rights under your collective agreement to two 20-minute coffee breaks during the day, one for each three hours and 45 minutes worked.

If you work through even one 20-minute break per day, you are giving the employer, on average, 2 weeks of free labour per year!

Your collective agreement also specifies that overtime worked must be "authorized in writing in advance by the Employer". This means that if you do not have your overtime hours approved in advance, you are working for free.

By continuing to do unpaid labour, you create the perception that the workload is manageable, when it is not.

Requesting Help and Standing Together

During these uncertain times and as your worksite moves into a modified work schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel additional pressure to compensate for the increased workload. I urge you not to work through breaks or do any unpaid overtime.

If you are having workload concerns, bring them to the attention of your manager immediately. It is their responsibility to prioritize your work. In becoming a more unified group, by not working through breaks and bringing workload concerns to your manager's attention, it will put additional pressure on your employer to hire more employees. 

Remember, not only are these your rights, taking breaks has been shown to actually increase productivity and it is important for your mental health. 


In these stressful times, it is as important as ever to stand strong together, to protect our rights in the workplace and to ensure that we are taking time during our workdays to practice good self-care.

In Solidarity, 

Amber Keane, Local 703 Chairperson

Larisa Struk, Staff Representative

Download PDF of notice here.



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