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Eating Periods

  • Content last reviewed: January 2018

Most employees are entitled to an uninterrupted 30-minute eating period after no more than five consecutive hours of work. An employer and employee may agree orally, electronically or in writing that the eating period will be split into two periods. If so, these two periods must total at least 30 minutes and both must be taken within every consecutive five-hour period.

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.

Time taken for eating periods is not considered to be working time for the purposes of determining the daily and weekly limits on hours of work; daily, weekly and bi-weekly rest provisions; overtime pay and minimum wage entitlements under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Coffee Breaks

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.


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