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What breaks should I get at work?
Clear language definitions to common legal terms.
In most jobs, you get at least 30 minutes off after every 5 hours of work. Your employer does not have to pay you for this time.
If you agree to it, you get two 15-minute breaks instead of one 30-minute break. You can make this agreement in writing or by talking with your employer.
Your employer does not have to give you any other breaks.
1. Find out if Ontario's Employment Standards Act applies to you
Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow, including rules about hours of work and breaks.
But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And in some cases, only parts of the ESA apply.
Use the Ministry of Labour's online tool called Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules to find out if your job is covered and which parts of the ESA apply.
You can also call the Ministry's Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551, 416-326-7160, or 1-866-567-8893 (TTY).
2. Figure out what breaks you should get
Figure out when you should have breaks in your work schedule.
In most jobs, you get at least 30 minutes off after every 5 hours of work. For example, if you start work at 9 a.m., the latest time your 30-minute break should start is 2 p.m.
If you work 10 hours, you get 2 breaks of 30 minutes each.
3. Consider your options if you're not getting breaks
You may want to talk to your co-workers. If your employer isn't giving you breaks, other workers might not be getting breaks either. You might want to talk to your employer about it as a group.
Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) says that your employer can't punish you or threaten to punish you for asking them to respect your rights.
If your employer punishes you because you stand up for your rights, you may be able to make a claim to the Ministry of Labour.
But most people don't make claims against an employer that they're still working for. This is because the laws to protect workers don't stop employers from firing their workers. And if you're fired, it's up to you to take action against the employer to get what they owe you.