I live and work in BC but my work contract says it's to be interpreted by the laws of Ontario. I have a shift scheduled where there is an unpaid 2 hour break in between. So for example I work 9AM-1PM then 3PM-7PM and only get paid 8 hours. Is this legal?

  • Is this a proposal (to which you wil presumably have to agree if you want the job) or a change brought in while you were working? Apr 27, 2019 at 10:32
  • @TimLymington it's a new job that has always been like this but I never agreed to it.
    – abc555
    Apr 27, 2019 at 17:08
  • 3
    If you are free to be where you want to be and to do what you want to do from 1PM to 3PM then I think it is not illegal. Obviously if you find a job with better working times that pays the same then you leave. If they tell you where to be or what to do in the time, they should pay.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 27, 2019 at 19:53
  • You have only asked whether the company is acting legally or not. Another question would be "what course of action should I take if I don't want a forced two hour lunch break", and workplace.stackexchange.com would be better for that.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 27, 2019 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


There are two parts to your question: Is it legal to do this? and Can they make me?.

I see no reason in the Employment Standards Act 2000 why it's illegal for a workday to be split in two. Section 18 specifies that you are entitled to at least 11 hours between the end of one day and the start of the next, but you are well within that. It is conceivable that a creative lawyer could argue that this is actually shift work, which requires an eight-hour break; but even if that worked, the company would presumably put you on something like 9 AM-12 noon, 8PM-midnight, which is not what you want.

The company can require you to do the job set out in your contract, which is why I asked whether this is a new requirement. I am afraid the reply "it's a new job, but I never agreed to it" doesn't make much sense to a lawyer. If you have been doing the job for a while, it is possible that the implied contract is for a normal workday, and the company is trying to change it unilaterally. (I would guess this won't work, but it would be worth consulting a lawyer.) If you applied for a job and now find that it isn't what you expected, you need to check the paperwork. I am almost certain there will be a clause saying "Your employment will be for 8 hours a day, as required by your manager" or something along those lines. When you first turn up for work, you accept those terms by conduct, and they can, legally, make you work this split shift for as long as they want, including the period when you are working out your notice after you quit.

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