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Daily Rest: The 11 Hour Rule

  • Content last reviewed: January 2012

An employee must have at least 11 consecutive hours free from performing work in each "day." (This requirement does not apply where an employee is on call and is called in to work during a period he or she would not otherwise have been expected to work.)

What is a "Day"?

Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), a "day" means a 24-hour period; it does not have to be a calendar day.

The Employment Standards Program uses the following interpretation of "day" for purposes of the 11 hour rule:

  • The first "day" for an employee starts at the beginning of his or her first shift in each “work cycle” and ends 24 hours later. (A new work cycle begins after every period of 24 hours or longer that is free from work. For example, if the employee works five days a week, with Sundays and Saturdays off, the employee would have one work cycle each week, which would begin on Monday.  If the employee instead had Sundays and Wednesdays off, the employee would have two work cycles each week, one beginning on Monday and another beginning on Thursday.)

    Example: Kelly had Sunday off, and so she begins a new work cycle on Monday.  She starts work on Monday at 8 am and ends 24 hours later on Tuesday at 8 am.

  • The second “day” begins with the first moment of work that is performed after the first “day” ends.

    The following examples address, respectively, shifts that begin:

    • before the first “day” has ended
    • as soon as the first “day” ends
    • sometime after the first “day” has ended

    Example 1: Kelly’s second shift begins on Tuesday at 6 am and ends at 6 pm. However, the second “day” begins Tuesday at 8 am, and ends 24 hours later on Wednesday at 8 am (Note that the second “day” begins Tuesday at 8 am rather than 6 am because the second “day” cannot start before the end of the first “day”).

    Example 2: Kelly’s second shift begins on Tuesday at 8 am and ends at 6 pm. The second “day” begins Tuesday at 8 a.m. and ends 24 hours later on Wednesday at 8 am, (Note that the second “day” begins Tuesday at 8 am because the second shift began immediately after the first 24 hour “day” ended).

    Example 3: Kelly’s second shift begins on Tuesday at 10 am and ends at 6 pm, The second “day” begins Tuesday at 10 am and ends 24 hours later on Wednesday at 10 am, (Note that the second “day” begins Tuesday at 10 am because the second shift began sometime after the first 24 hour “day” ended).

  • The third and each subsequent “day” begins and ends in the same manner as described above.

As demonstrated by the examples above, "days" cannot overlap with other "days." That is, the beginning of a day cannot be any earlier than the end of the previous day. As well, "days" do not have to be consecutive.

There can be gaps of time in between the end of one "day" and the beginning of the next "day" where the employee started work sometime after the end of the preceding “day.”

Within each 24-hour “day” (as described above), an employee generally is entitled to be free from work for at least 11 consecutive hours.

Exceptional Circumstances

In certain exceptional circumstances an employee may be required to work more than the daily or weekly limits on hours of work, or during a required rest period. In such cases, the limits on hours of work may be exceeded or the rest period reduced, but only to the extent that it is necessary to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s establishment or operations. For more information, see exceptional circumstances.

 
 





 

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Employment Standards Information Centre
416-326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area) 
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