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QUESTION: I have a fairly labour intensive job.  I usually get a half hour lunch in every 8-hour shift. For production scheduling reasons, my employer has recently told me that instead of one 2 hour break in the middle of my shift, I must move to 2 breaks; one break of 10 minutes after 2 hours and another break of 20 minutes after 3 hours.  I don=t like it.  Do I have to do it?
ANSWER: No.  Every employee is entitled to a minimum of 30 minutes break every 5 hours, that means that in an 8-hour shift, you have to have one break of at least a 2 hour and it has to be placed so that you do not work more than 5 hours continually without a break. 
There are new provisions of the Employment Standards Act that allow an employer and an employee to agree to change that one break into 2 breaks of 15 minute each or one break of 10 minutes and one break of 20 minutes.  The key is that the employer and employee have to agree.  If the employee does not agree to this arrangement, the employer cannot force the employee to take the 2 shorter breaks. 

As published in the Hamilton Spectator, July 8, 2002
Ed Canning
Ed Canning
P: 905.572.5809