Breaks and rest period - Federally regulated workplaces

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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The Canada Labour Code provides for 3 types of breaks and a minimum rest period between work periods or shifts:

Note: for the purpose of this web page, reference to “employee(s)” also includes persons that are often referred to as “interns” and “student interns” who are undertaking internships to fulfill the requirements of their educational program. For more information, visit Federal labour standards for interns and student interns.

30-minute break

Subject to the Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations and IPG-101: Scope of application, as an employee, you are entitled to an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes during every period of 5 consecutive hours of work. Your employer must grant this break in 1 period, they cannot split the break. This does not apply to managers and certain professionals.

If your employer requires you to remain at their disposal during that break then you must receive compensation for that period. For example, if your employer requests that you remain at the workplace during your break to answer the telephone, then you must receive pay.

Exceptions

Your employer may postpone or cancel your break if it is necessary due to a situation that your employer could not reasonably anticipate and that situation presents or could reasonably present any of the following imminent or serious threats:

For more details, see:

8-hour rest period between shifts

Subject to the Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations and IPG-101: Scope of application, as an employee, you are entitled to an unpaid rest period of a minimum of 8 consecutive hours between each shift or work period. This does not apply to managers and certain professionals.

For more information, see: IPG-049: Excluded employees from Division I pursuant to subsection 167(2) of the Canada Labour Code - Part III.

Exceptions

Your employer may require you to work more hours than your scheduled hours. This may apply even if doing so would reduce your rest period below the minimum 8-hour rest period. Your employer can require you to work if it is necessary due to a situation that your employer could not reasonably anticipate and that situation presents or could reasonably present any of the following imminent or serious threats:

Note: There will be upcoming regulations related to hours of work provisions, which will either exempt classes of employees from certain hours of work provisions or will modify the provisions for the purpose of application to certain classes of employees. The Regulation may impact the scheduling of breaks. Refer to the Labour Program Forward Regulatory Plan: 2022 to 2024 on the Labour Program’s website for updates on the upcoming Regulations.

Medical break

As an employee, you are entitled to any necessary breaks for medical reasons. These breaks are unpaid.

When requested in writing, you must provide your employer with a certificate, issued by a health care practitioner. This certificate must state the duration and frequency of breaks required, as well as the start and end dates of the period in which breaks needed for medical reasons are to be taken.

Nursing break

If you are an employee who is nursing, you are entitled to any break that is necessary for you to nurse or express milk. These breaks are unpaid.

Exemptions from, and Modifications to, Hours of Work Provisions Regulations

The Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations (Regulations) exempt classes of employees from certain hours of work provisions or modify the provisions for the purpose of application to certain classes of employees. The Regulations are coming into force in 2 phases.

Phase 1 of the Regulations came into force on February 1, 2022 and they apply exclusively to the following sectors:

The Regulations list job titles, by sector, as per the National Occupational Classification, that were granted exemptions and/or modifications.

Note: For more information on which exemptions and/or modifications apply to you, please consult the Regulations.

Phase 2 of the Regulations will cover the following sectors:

Note: Phase 2 of the Regulations are not yet in force. For information on the application of certain hours of work provisions for the phase 2 sectors, prior to the coming into force date, please consult IPG-101: Scope of application.

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