Understanding When a Break Starts and Stops: What Employees Should Know
Having a break during your workday is important and it is crucial that employees understand what breaks or eating periods they are entitled to in order to protect their rights within the workplace. Though different workplaces may handle break and eating periods differently, employers are required to ensure that their employees are getting the breaks that they are entitled to.
At Soni Law Firm, we are the employment lawyer Toronto employees turn to when looking to understand and protect their rights within the workplace. We understand that breaks can be a point of tension between employees and employers. In this post, we shed light on a common question regarding when a break or eating period begins for employees.
Should Getting to and from the Break Room be Considered Part of a Break?
In a recent Globe and Mail article, Rahul Soni of Soni Law Firm in Toronto answered a question surrounding whether or not the time spent walking to and from a break room should be counted as part of the break time.
In the article, the employee in question states that they are required to take their break in the designated break room despite it being a 7-minute walk to the room from their workstation. The employee is concerned that nearly half of their break is being consumed by walking to and from the required break room and wants to know if their break should begin when they leave their workstation or when they arrive at the break room.
In the post, Soni states that the employees’ break should start when they reach the breakroom, not when they leave their work station. This is due to the employers’ rule stating that breaks are only to be taken in the break room, and as such, a break cannot begin until they have reached the designated room.
Soni further elaborates in the article by stating, “In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act states that your employer must “provide eating periods of at least one-half hour” and ensure you are not “working longer than five consecutive hours without an eating period.
This “eating period” is meant to be an uninterrupted block of time for you to peacefully enjoy your meal and disconnect from the workday.”
Based on the information provided by the employee, it would be understandable to start an eating break while on the way to the break room. In this specific circumstance, it would be helpful for the employee to share their concerns about the time it takes to get to the break room to ensure that the employee is being provided with an adequate break.
What Can I Do If My Employer Isn’t Providing Adequate Break Time?
If you are concerned that your employer is not providing you with adequate break time and have been unsuccessful in addressing your concerns with the employer, it may be a good idea to speak with an employment lawyer.
At Soni Law Firm, we are committed to helping you understand and protect your rights as an employee. Contact us today to book your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you protect your rights within the workplace.