Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), Employers must provide an “unpaid eating period of at least 30 minutes” for Employees working more than 5 consecutive hours.
The Employer is not required to pay an employee for the eating period if work is not being performed unless the employment contract requires them to be paid or the Employee cannot leave the premises.
In situations where your employee cannot leave the premises for their break, they may need to be paid for their break.
If they cannot leave because of personal reasons (i.e., no car) or because to do so would be impractical (changing in/out of PPE) this is not included. The break is unpaid.
If they are required to be on duty (i.e., security guard) or are working alone and not able to take the break, it must be paid time.
If they cannot leave because they are required to “be available for work” or respond to an emergency but the above does not apply (i.e., Health & Safety/First Aid reps, maintenance technician) there are two options available:
If the employee’s break is interrupted and they have to return to work, they can continue their break after dealing with the interruption.
If not able to take or resume their break, they must be paid for it.
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