Understanding the rules in Ontario about hours of work can help you ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. An employment lawyer may be able to assist you if you are experiencing problems with your employer.
There are rules contained in the Employment Standards Act (ESA) about working hours in Ontario. Most workers are covered by the ESA, however there are some exceptions including farm workers, certain professionals (i.e.: doctors), students in co-op school placements and federally regulated workers (i.e.: workers in banking sector). It should also be noted that working hours limits apply to each individual employer, if for example you work 2 jobs, the limits discussed below will only apply to each individual job.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have a right to a coffee break. Employers are required to give you a 30 minute meal break for every 5 hours of work. Many employers will give a longer break or additional 15 minute breaks, but this is not required under the law.
The general daily working limit is 8 hours. Employers and employees can agree to a longer work day in writing (i.e.: many hospitals will have 12 hour nursing shifts), but the absolute maximum is 13 hours per day. You are also entitled to a minimum of 11 hours free from work between shifts.
For most workers the maximum weekly regular (non-overtime) working hours are 48. For most employees overtime is triggered after 44 working hours. 60 hours is the maximum a single employer can have you working each week.
Occasionally your employer may be able to require you to work beyond the aforementioned daily and weekly limits, when there are exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances are those circumstances where there would be serious interference with the employer’s working operations. “Rush Orders” or “Busy periods” do not qualify for this provision. Natural disasters, repairs to equipment required to keep the operation running, or an emergency would potentially qualify.
Regular Days Off
Weekly employees are entitled to one 24-hour day off from work per week or 48 hours straight off of work every two weeks. Contrary to popular belief, you are not entitled to two days off per week per the ESA, though it may be built into your individual employment contract.
If you are experiencing issues with working hours, or other employment law issues and you would like assistance, the best option may be to speak with an employment law lawyer. Mehdi Au LLP has employment lawyers on staff who may be able to help you with your case.
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