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Eating periods/ breaks

Under the ESA, employers are required to provide eating periods to employees. An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period free from work. However, if the employer and the employee agree, the eating period can be split into two eating periods within every five consecutive hours. The two eating periods must total at least 30 minutes. This agreement can be verbal or in writing.

Table of Contents
  1. Do I get paid for my meal break?
  2. Do I get a coffee break?
  3. What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?
  4. Can I see the ESA?

Do I get paid for my meal break? Top

Meal breaks are unpaid unless your employment contract or collective agreement states that meal breaks will be paid. (Remember: under the ESA, an employment contract does not have to be written, it may also be oral or implied). Even if your employer pays you during eating periods, you must be free from work.

Eating periods, whether paid or unpaid, aren't considered hours of work, and are not counted towards overtime.

Do I get a coffee break? Top

Under the ESA, employers do not have to give employees "coffee" breaks.

However, if an employment contract gives employees a coffee break and employees are required to remain at the workplace during this time, the coffee break must be paid for. If an employee is free to leave the workplace during the coffee break, the employer doesn't have to pay for the time.

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA? Top

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?

Can I see the ESA? Top

Employment Standards Act, 2000

Resources Top

Ontario Ministry of Labour
Employment Standards

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