Break and Rest Requirements in BC

Employment Law | June 29, 2021

When it comes to break and rest requirements in BC, there are many misconceptions surrounding what an employer must provide for their employees. While there are certain laws that every employer must adhere to, some employers may provide extra breaks at their discretion. To ensure compliance with all relevant laws and standards, it is important for employers and employees alike to understand the legislation for breaks and rest periods. As experts in employment law, the team at Linley Welwood has provided some information on this subject to ensure employees are receiving their required break and rest time while also ensuring employers are complying with applicable standards.

What are the vacation time requirements in BC?

What are the Requirements for Breaks in BC?

Under BC legislation, an employer must ensure that:

  • No employee works more than 5 consecutive hours without a meal break.
  • Each meal break lasts at least 30 consecutive minutes (1/2 hour).

For shifts of 10 hours or more, multiple breaks may be required. For example, if an employee works a 12-hour shift from 6 am to 6 pm, they will need a break at 11 am and 4:30 pm to ensure that they do not work more than 5 consecutive hours. These breaks can also be taken at other times during a shift—9am and 2 pm, etc.—so long as the employee does not work more than 5 consecutive hours.

Any employer that requires an employee to be available for work during a meal break must ensure that this break is counted as time worked by the employee. An example of this situation could be an overnight employee working at a gas station. During their break, they may need to assist a customer, so they must be paid for their break.

Additionally, an employee must be granted at least 32 consecutive hours free from work each week. In addition to weekly rest, an employee must also have at least 8 consecutive hours off between shifts. If an employee is required to work during either of these rest periods, they must be provided with overtime pay.

What Breaks are not Required by Law in BC?

Though many employees view coffee breaks as required by law, employers are not required to provide them. Some employers provide one or two 15-minute coffee breaks, but this decision is entirely at the employer’s discretion.

In addition to coffee breaks, it should be noted that 30-minute meal breaks are unpaid unless employees must be available for work during this period. Though a 30-minute break is a requirement by law, some employers may provide longer breaks. This decision is entirely optional and completely at the discretion of the employer.

To learn more about break and rest requirements in BC or for assistance with an employment law case, reach out to the employment lawyers at Linley Welwood. Our team can be contacted at 604-850-6640 and will be happy to assist you.

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