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Lunch, dinner break requirements by jurisdiction | Rules for giving out free tickets to events

Lunch, dinner break requirements

QUESTION: What are the labour standards requirements when it comes to providing employees with rest or meal breaks?

ANSWER: Generally, employees are entitled to an unpaid meal break of 30 minutes after five consecutive hours of work, but the specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, depending on provincial/territorial labour standards and the Canada Labour Code:

 

Canada Labour Code

There are no provisions in the code covering meal breaks.

Alberta

Employers must give employees a meal break/rest period of at least 30 minutes during every five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for the break unless the worker is not allowed to leave the workplace. If the parties agree, the employee may take the rest period in two periods of at least 15 minutes. Exceptions apply where a collective agreement provides for different rest periods, it is unreasonable for an employee to take a rest period, or if there is an accident, urgent work or unforeseen circumstances that make it necessary for the employee to work.

British Columbia

Employers must provide staff with at least a 30-minute meal break after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for the break unless they require them to work or to be available for work during the break.

Manitoba

Employers must provide employees with a meal break of at least 30 minutes after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for the break. Exceptions apply when the employment standards director approves a different meal break or a collective agreement provides different rules.

New Brunswick

The Employment Standards Act does not address this issue; however, regulations under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act require employers to provide staff with a rest period of at least 30 minutes after five consecutive hours of work. The legislation does not specify whether the employer has to pay employees for meal breaks.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Employers must provide staff with at least a 60-minute break after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay workers for the break unless they still direct and control them during the break. Parties may agree to a different rest period, provided that it is in a collective agreement or written contract.

Northwest Territories

Employers must provide staff with at least a 30-minute meal break after each period of five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for the break unless they require them to work during it, or to remain at the workplace. Exceptions apply when the employment standards officer has approved a different arrangement or where a collective agreement provides for a different meal break.

Nova Scotia

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute rest or meal break after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay staff for the break unless they require them to remain at the job and be ready to work during it. Staff who work more than 10 consecutive hours are entitled to at least one rest or meal break of at least 30 minutes and other breaks totalling at least 30 minutes for each five consecutive hours of work. Employees, who for medical reasons must eat at other times, are allowed to. Exceptions apply where it is not practical to provide a meal break due to an accident, urgent work or unforeseeable circumstances; it is not reasonable for the employee to take a meal break; and when a collective agreement states otherwise.

Nunavut

Employers must provide staff with at least a 30-minute meal break after each period of five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay the employee for the break, unless they require them to work or to stay at the workplace during that time. Employers may apply to the Labour Standards Board for a meal break waiver if they do not think it is possible to provide a meal break.

Ontario

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute eating period after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for meal breaks unless they work during the eating period or it is specified in an employment contract. Where the employee and employer agree, the employee may split the eating period into two separate periods that total 30 minutes when added together in each consecutive five-hour period.

Prince Edward Island

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute meal break every five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay staff for meal breaks unless they require them to work during it. Employers aren’t allowed to require employees to remain at the workplace during an unpaid eating period.

Quebec

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute meal break after five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay staff for meal breaks unless they require them to be at their disposal during it. Exceptions apply where there is a collective agreement or decree that states otherwise.

Saskatchewan

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute meal break every five consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay staff for the breaks unless they require them to work or to be at their disposal during it. Exceptions apply where it is unreasonable for an employee to take a meal break or if unusual, unexpected or emergency circumstances arise. If an employee works five hours, but the employer is not required to grant a meal break, the employer must allow the employee to eat while working. If a medical condition requires an employee to eat at times other than during a designated meal break, the employer must allow the employee to do so.

Yukon

Employers must provide employees with at least a 30-minute meal break after five consecutive hours of work if the employee works 10 hours or less a day. Employees who work more than 10 hours a day are entitled to a meal break after six consecutive hours of work. Employers do not have to pay employees for the meal breaks unless they require them to work during that time.

 


 
 
Giving out free tickets to events

QUESTION: We offer free tickets to concerts and sporting events to employees. We also give free tickets to events to our customers. If they attend, our employees who go to the event are expected to host them. Are the tickets we give to our staff a taxable benefit?

ANSWER: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) policy states that whether the tickets are a taxable benefit will depend on whether the employer provides them for free to employees for personal use or business use.

If the tickets are for the employee’s personal use, they would be a taxable benefit.*

If the employer is providing the tickets for free to an employee on the condition that the employee carry out employment duties such as hosting a customer, that qualifies as business use and there would be no taxable benefit.

Employers must keep records to verify that they gave the employees the tickets for business purposes. The CRA advises that the records should identify the employee who was given the tickets and provide details on the personal or business use for the tickets, the number of tickets provided, and their value (including the GST/HST or combined GST-QST in Quebec).

If the tickets are a taxable benefit, the employer must include their value in the employee’s remuneration for calculating income tax source deductions and Canada/Quebec Pension Plan contributions. The taxable benefit is not subject to Employment Insurance or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan premiums.

At year end, report the benefit on the employee’s T4 in box 14 and in the “Other Information” area of the form. For Quebec, also report the taxable benefit in boxes A and L on the employee’s RL-1.

*Note: Different rules apply if the tickets are provided as a gift under the CRA’s gifts and awards policy. Refer to the CRA’s website.

 

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