The general rule is that a worker is entitled to a 10 minute rest break for every 4 hours work, and the employer must not prohibit the workers from taking such breaks. If the nature or circumstance of work prevent the employer from giving the break at the preferred time (i.e. in the middle of the 4 hour period), then the employee must still receive the 10 minute break at another time during the day.
But, an employee cannot unilaterally choose to take his 20 minute break any time that he or she wants. For example, an employee cannot pass on both breaks in an 8 hour day, in order to leave 20 minutes early. The employer can also require that the employee stay on the premises during his or her breaks.
If the employer does not allow a rest break, then the employee can file a wage claim against the employer and recover one hour of pay for each workday that a rest period was not provided. For large employers, the damages can spiral out of control very quickly.
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