Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) employers are required to provide eating periods to employees. An employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute eating period free from work. However, if the employer and the employee agree, the eating period can be split into two eating periods within every five consecutive hours. The two eating periods must total at least 30 minutes. This agreement can be verbal or in writing.
Eating periods are unpaid unless the employee's employment contract requires payment. Whether the eating period is paid or not, the employee must be free from work during the 30 minutes.
The ESA does not require an employer to provide any breaks in addition to eating periods. However, if the employer does provide another type of a break, such as a coffee break, and the employee must remain at his or her workplace during the break, this time is considered to be working time under the ESA.