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Work hours: 7 common questions

Having trouble separating myth from fact when it comes to work schedules and paid hours? Here are seven frequently asked questions that you may have — and the answers!

1. Do I need to grant my employees a coffee break?

No. However, if you offer this benefit to your employees, they must be paid since they are deemed to be at work. In other words, even if they are not at their workstation, their time is still considered to be time worked.

2. Do I have to give my employees a lunch break?

An unpaid 30-minute break is mandatory after five consecutive hours of work. If your employees have to remain available for work, this break must be paid.

3. Do I have to pay my employees for hours spent on a training course?

If you require that your employees take a training course, they are deemed to be at work, so their hours of training are considered working hours. You must also reimburse their training costs (transportation, meals, accommodation, etc.)

4. I require that my employees come in to work 15 minutes prior to the store opening so that they can get ready. Do I need to pay them for those 15 minutes?

Yes. You have to calculate your employees’ hours of work as soon as they come in to work and are at your disposal.

5. What is the three-hour indemnity for reporting to work?

When you ask your employees to come in to work as part of their usual job, but then decide to send them home due to a lack of work before they have completed three consecutive hours of work, you must pay them an indemnity equal to three hours of their regular wages.
However, you do not have to pay this indemnity if your employees’ regular work schedules include shifts of less than three hours or if an incident beyond your control, such as a fire, forces you to close the store.

6. Can I make my employees work seven days a week if there is a lot of work?

No. Your employees are entitled to a rest period of at least 32 consecutive hours per week, except if you have a pre-established agreement with individual employees for staggered working hours. However, the law does not provide for a minimum rest period between two work shifts.

7. Do I have to release my employees’ work schedules two weeks in advance?

No. Despite popular belief, you are not required to release work schedules two weeks in advance. However, as of January 1, 2019, you will have to release work schedules at least five days in advance; otherwise, an employee could refuse to come in to work.


Rest assured, despite these many obligations and constraints, choosing and modifying your employees’ work schedules are part of your right to manage and are therefore at your complete discretion.

Do you have more questions about your rights and obligations? Call your CFIB Counsellor!