Contract Obliges Employer to Provide Meal Breaks

|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 01/31/2011

Seeking to ensure that its members were assured a meal break while on shift, the union filed a grievance on behalf of paramedics charging that the employer was failing to provide meal breaks according to the requirements of the collective agreement.

Language in the collective agreement in question, which was negotiated in 2004, spelled out that the employer “shall” provide a half-hour meal break at some point within a designated three-and-one-half-hour window in the middle of the standard 12-hour shift. In the event that workers were unable to return to their stations for lunch, the employer agreed to pay a $15 meal allowance.

Before that language was negotiated, the collective agreement obliged the employer to “make every effort” to afford employees the opportunity of an uninterrupted meal break. In the event that they didn’t get a proper break, workers were entitled to a $12 meal allowance.