An employer cannot employ a worker for more than five hours of work per day without giving the worker at least thirty minutes of meal time. A second meal of no less than thirty minutes is required when an employee works more than ten hours a day. Labour Code Section 512. The employer, which refuses to temporarily cede control of employees during a meal due, violates the obligation to provide meal time and is liable for compensation [and a bonus] for hours worked. An employer who gives up control, but who still knows or has reason to know that the employee works during the meal period, has not breached his mealtime obligations [and does not owe a bonus], but nevertheless owes his employees a regular allowance for the time worked. As long as the employer does allow a worker to take a 30-minute break, the worker may voluntarily decide not to take the break and the employer does not owe the employee the extra hour`s pay in the form of a bonus wage for an offence. The Supreme Court stated in Brinker: 4. Meal break for posts of less than six hours and less than 12 hours are not required in writing, but should be. 5. Don`t confuse on-duty meal agreements with abandoning dinner time. (3) Workers may waive breaks for shifts of less than 6 hours or positions less than 12 hours. We conclude that Section 512 requires, without giving up, a first meal no later than the end of a worker`s fifth hour of work and a second meal no later than the end of a worker`s 10th hour of work.
If the total working time per day does not exceed six hours for a worker, the meal time may be abolished by mutual agreement of both the employer and the worker. If the total working time does not exceed 12 hours, the second meal cannot be cancelled at the same time as the employer and the worker if the first meal has not been cancelled. Labour Code Section 512. A “service” meal period is permitted only if the nature of the work prevents a worker from being exempted from any obligation and from agreeing to a paid meal in the workplace by written agreement between the parties. The written agreement stipulates that the worker can revoke the contract in writing at any time. While workers may work voluntarily through food breaks when the employer knows or should have known that the worker is working during this period, the employer must ensure that the worker is paid for the working time. Labour Code Section 512 does not require a worker to give up their food breaks for positions of less than six hours or positions of less than 12 hours to be written. However, in order to avoid potential litigation and to be able to defend against possible claims by angry staff, it is always good practice to have staff documented and signed voluntary waiver declarations.