Must Your Employer Permit Periodic Breaks and Time Off for Meals?
You work in a physically or mentally challenging job and you give it your all. Periodically, you need to take a few minutes to recharge, so that you can maximize your productivity for the rest of your shift. Of course, you also need nourishment to function at peak capacity. You can’t really eat and work at the same time, so you are entitled to a lunch break, right? Maybe, but maybe not…
Is Your Employer Legally Required to Grant Lunch or Other Periodic Breaks?
Even though studies have show that rest and lunch breaks generally improve productivity, good health and workplace morale, they are only mandatory in some states. Under Federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act), an employer is not legally required to allow employees to take either a periodic break or a lunch break. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no standards or regulations related to mandatory rest or meal breaks.
Currently, though, there are 20 states that have laws mandating meal breaks. These states typically require that an employer provide a half-hour break to any worker who has been on the clock for at least five continuous hours. Furthermore, some state laws prohibit the lunch break from being at the beginning of end of a shift. If your employer relieves you of all duties during your lunch break, you are not entitled to compensation for that time period. However, if you are required to eat and continue working, that is considered compensable time.
Additionally, five states—Colorado, California, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Washington—require employers to grant a periodic rest break. As a general rule, the requirement is 10 minutes for every four hours worked.
Are Salaried Workers Entitled to Work or Meal Breaks?
The Fair Labor Standards Act defines workers as “exempt” or “non-exempt” employees. Non-exempt employees are generally defined as workers who are paid by the hour or who earn less than a certain amount per year. All others are considered “exempt” employees. The state and federal rules and regulations governing rest and meal breaks only apply to “non-exempt” workers.
Contact the Experienced Workplace Protection Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the challenges you can face on the job when your employer fails to provide for periodic rest breaks or to allow you to take time off to eat and maintain your energy level. We can help you determine what your rights are when an employer has denied any type of work-related break. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable and thorough employment discrimination and workplace protection lawyer, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.