How Long Is My Lunch Break at Work Required To Be?
We all know that person at the office who works through lunch instead of taking a break. Especially if your manager is the one who eats at their desk, you may feel unintentional pressure to also forgo a lunch break and keep working.
However, an uninterrupted meal period can provide benefits beyond nourishment, allowing you the time and space to clear your head, refocus and mentally prepare for the rest of the work day, and make personal phone calls that can only be made during regular business hours. Aren’t you entitled to take a daily lunch break?
Is a Lunch Break Required By Law?
The answer to this question is yes. The Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) requires that all employees be granted one 30-minute meal break for every 5 consecutive hours of work. This means your employer can’t force you to eat at your desk or work through lunch.
You’re entitled to use the 30-minute break however you want. You can make phone calls, socialize with co-workers, catch up on a podcast, or even sit down and eat lunch! If you work a ten-hour shift, you are entitled to a second 30-minute break.
My Colleagues Get Extra Breaks. Am I Entitled To More Breaks Too?
Though Ontario law does not require paid lunch breaks, rest breaks, or coffee breaks, if your company has established a practice of paid breaks, they should be offered equally.
The ESA sets the bare minimum amount of break time employers are required to provide. If your colleagues are offered regular additional work breaks, you may be entitled to the same. Your employer can establish different breaks or paid breaks, either in writing or through routines practices.
What if I Don’t Want a 30 Minute Lunch Break?
What you do with your time is up to you, but Ontario requires your employer to give you 30 minutes off for every 5 hours worked. If you would rather have two 15-minute breaks during those five hours, you can request an arrangement with your manager or employer.
The company can grant you two 15-minute rest periods instead of a 30-minute lunch break, either in writing or verbally. As long as you are provided 30 minutes of uninterrupted break time every 5 work hours, you and your employer can agree on the system that works best for you.
Singh Lamarche LLP is a Toronto law firm specializing in employment law. If your employer is violating your right to receive a break, book a consultation today.