31 Aug How much break time should be provided to employees in Ontario?
Working from home has made taking breaks substantially harder. Stepping away from the computer has become increasingly more challenging now that the workspace is more accessible in the home and productivity is being remotely tracked by many employers.
However, taking breaks during an eight-hour workday isn’t selfish or demonstrating a lack of work ethic. Preventing or restricting an employee from taking a break, according to the Employment Standards Act, is against the law.
Working over 40 hours a week is exhausting, and without breaking, it can be easier to experience burn-out. Employees work hard, and the law recognizes that everyone needs time to re-fuel and re-charge throughout the day.
How long should my break be?
Section 20 of the ESA, Work Break Law, outlines that for every five hours an employee works, they should receive at minimum one thirty-minute break. The employee can either choose to have one thirty-minute break or split it up into two fifteen-minute breaks.
If you are an avid coffee drinker, you may be wondering if coffee breaks are also included in this break schedule. Unfortunately, employers do not have to provide additional break time for coffee runs.
Most employees should be receiving the same number of breaks and for the same length of time. If a colleague is getting more break time than another, the employee receiving less time may be permitted to ask for more.
If employees work through their break or are interrupted, then they are entitled to take another break. This time is strictly to take a rest from working and it should be completely uninterrupted.
When do I take my break, and will I be paid?
Employers are not required to provide a set time to take this break. There are some instances where an employee can provide a lunch time for their employees, and some where the employee can choose when they want to break. Either one is acceptable.
Employers can also choose to pay their employees during this time, but they are not required by law to do so. However, if the employee’s Employment Contract guarantees paid breaks, then legally, they need to be compensated for that time.
Employers can schedule or plan for their employees to take their breaks, but it is up to the employee whether they use that time to rest or not. If the employee chooses to work during their break, that is their choice, and the employer cannot be at fault. The ESA rules are offering employees time to rest, and to optimize efficiency in the long term, the employee should be taking advantage of this time.
If you are not being provided a proper break or have not been compensated as stated in your Employment Contract, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.