Breaks and Lunches

Written by USW 9511 Admin on Monday June 4, 2018

It is important that all members be aware of the breaks they are entitled to, and take their breaks and lunches.  Breaks and lunches are to provide you with an opportunity to "unplug" from your duties, and refresh you physically and mentally.  In particular, DEs should be wary of becoming mentally weary throughout the day, as the chances of having an accident could be increased.

Everyone should be aware of the breaks you are entitled to.

First off, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) entitles every employee to a 30-minute unpaid meal break every five hours.  No employee should be working more than five hours without a lunch break.  This break should be 30 minutes, uninterrupted by work (not reviewing error reports, etc).

In our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), we have also negotiated additional breaks.  If you are working five hours or less, you are entitled to one 15-minute paid break.  It is implied the break would be scheduled somewhere near the mid-point of your shift, however, workload may require this to be shifted some.

If you are working 7.5 hours, you are entitled to two 15-minute paid breaks, as well as your unpaid 30 minute lunch.  It is implied the breaks and lunches would be spread in a roughly even fashion throughout your shift (with some regard to workload, and the maximum 5 hours you can work without your lunch break).

Everyone should be taking their breaks.

The breaks required by law and the breaks we have negotiated serve many purposes for the benefit of our members.  Nourishment and hydration are very important, and breaks provide and opportunity to make sure you are attending to your physical requirements.

Equally important is refreshing yourself mentally.  Taking your breaks provides you with relief from the constant engagement required of Customer Service Agents and Driver Examiners, and provides you with an opportunity to engage with something else (friends/family, entertainment, etc).  Taking your proper breaks will also allow you to refocus when you return to your duties.  This is especially important for DEs to ensure mental alertness to prevent dangerous situations, but CSAs will also be less likely to commit errors in their duties.

Take your breaks.  It is beneficial to your physical and mental well-being, and will help in your job performance.

Supervisors should not be asking you to give up your breaks.

There may be times when your office is overly busy (sick calls, unexpected customers, etc), however, your supervisors should not be asking you to give up your breaks to accommodate more customers.  As stated above, breaks are important for your health and well-being, and should be treated as such.  Supervisors may show some discrection in the timing of your breaks and may move your break forward or back, but should not essentially eliminate your break by moving it so far as to put it at the very beginning or end of your shift.  Supervisors should not be requiring you to work with no breaks, regardless of how much work there is to get done.  If you have been required to work through your break(s), please contact your Union Steward or your Relationship Manager (Eva Georgiou or Una Geraghty).

On a similar note, members should be aware of their rights in regards to Overtime work.

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