Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

It seems that most pharmacists agree that mandated breaks to eat and/or use the washroom -- which contributes to our mental and physical health -- would not only be desirable for optimal functioning of the pharmacist but also by extension for optimal patient care. Obviously the ESA mandates breaks for other employees because it recognizes better and safer work occurs when staff are healthier and happier, so why are pharmacists exempted from this? Other health professionals in this country freely take lunches and/or breaks to eat, washroom etc and not only does patient care not suffer but it is expected by patients without complaint. It should also be noted that pharmacists in other countries (with the exception of the US -- who we do not wish to aspire to be like for many reasons) not only close their pharmacies for lunch hours, they also close in the evenings and weekends and patients adapt their schedules accordingly and continue to live in good health. I have been a pharmacist for almost 30 years in Ontario now, and have worked at stores that both offered me paid breaks and stores that did not allow any breaks at all, and I can personally say that I performed better and was much happier (which does impact my interactions with patients!) at those stores where I was allowed to eat and refresh my mind for a short time. It should also be noted that breaks should be even easier to take now with pharmacy technicians having increased abilities and tasks that they are allowed to perform without direct supervision. We all talk about the importance of work-life balance but somehow fail to make the effort to achieve this or allow this for our own selves/pharmacist staff.

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