Interpretation: breaks, article 4.03

1. Replacement of the break by an early departure

The employer, even with the agreement of the employees, cannot replace the break by an early departure.

Example: The employees do not have a break in the afternoon but leave at 16:45 while being paid to 17:00 hours.

The decree speaks of “a rest period” and it would be to go against the spirit of the text to consider the period from 16:45 to 17:00 as a rest period. In such a case, there would be no claim. There can however be a penal complaint for non-respect of the decree.

Jurisprudence :

Construction industry
Plomberie Pichette Inc vs. Québec (Attorney General)
Québec Court of Appeal, September 13, 1994
Judges Nichols, Tourigny and Chamberland

Parity Committee vs. 2437-8226 Québec Inc
(Service d’entretien Unipro)
Court of Québec, June 16, 1995
Judge Claude René Dumais

2. Work at more than one place

Article 4.03 is silent in the case of the employee who works at more than one place. The text speaks of “a work period whose duration is seven hours or more…” without specifying.

A strict interpretation of the text would thus lead to understand that the employee who works 5 hours in a building the morning and 2 hours in another in the evening would be entitled to 2 breaks. However jurisprudence has rather retained the spirit of the break, which is for the employee to rest, to be restored. It is difficult, in this context, to see how one can require a second break at the time of the second 2 hour presence.

However, it would be different if, at the request of the employer, the employee had to finish in a building and go immediately to the other. In this case, the car drive cannot be regarded as a rest.

3. Monetary value of the break

If the employer grants a break, but it is not paid, the Parity Committee can claim the unpaid amount for the breaks.

If the employer does not grant a break, the Parity Committee can claim the equivalent amount.

Jurisprudence :

Parity Committee vs. 2437-8226 Quebec Inc. (Service d’entretien Unipro)
Court of Québec, June 16, 1995
Judge Claude René Dumais