Ontario’s Working Hours

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out the number of working hours an employer can legally require an employee to work, as follows:

  • 8 hours in a day
  • 48 hours in a work week

Addressing Changes in Hours

Any exceptions to these working hours, such as overtime, must be outlined in an employee contract, in which the employee agrees to a specified number of hours per day or per work week.

It is a best practice to document all employee rights and expectations at the beginning of employment, or as soon as changes are made to their hours of work. An employer must:

  • Provide an employee with a copy of the most recent document/contract published
  • Obtain written acknowledgment that the employee agrees to the changes provided in the document/contract

Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to rest and eating periods. As an employer, you must provide:

  • 11 consecutive hours off work each day (24 hours)
  • 8 hours off work between shifts
  • 24 consecutive hours off work each work week (or 48 consecutive hours off work in every period of two consecutive work weeks)

In addition, an employee must not work for more than five hours in a row without getting a 30-minute meal break. Alternatively, this break can be split into two 15-minute periods within every five consecutive hours of work. This can only be done if there is an oral or written agreement in place between the employer and employee.

Have questions about managing work hours?

If you’re unsure how to manage hours of work or have questions about how the ESA is relevant, call Employerline to speak with our HR experts. Our employer advice line is here to help: 1-888-219-8767