In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out an employers’ obligation to provide employees with overtime pay for work performed beyond 44 hours per week. The maximum daily number of hours most employees will be required to work is an 8-hour shift. This daily limit can be exceeded by agreement between the employee and the employer.

Certain jobs are exempt from the ‘hours of work’ rules in the ESA such as chiropractors, dentists, pharmacists, and surgeons. This is not an exhaustive list of jobs exempt from this rule — please consult our firm to confirm if you are covered by the Ontario statute.

How many breaks are you entitled to in an 8 Hour Shift?

In an 8-hour shift, an employee is entitled to a 30-minute eating period. The ESA sets out that an employee covered under this provision of the Act must not work more than 5 consecutive hours without getting a 30-minute meal break.

Therefore, in an 8-hour shift, an employee is entitled to a half-hour break.


Does my employer have to pay for my break?

The half-hour meal break is unpaid unless the employee’s employment agreement specifies payment for such a break.


Am I entitled to a break in a 4-hour shift?

Employers do not have to give their employees any other breaks other than the half-hour break after 5 hours of consecutive work. An employee’s specific employment contract may entitle the employee to more breaks, a longer meal break or paid meal breaks.

If your employment agreement specifies you are to be given extra breaks or paid breaks, and you have not received those entitlements, please call our firm.