The Full Scoop on Labor Laws Breaks

Many employees and employers are unclear about labor laws breaks, which often lead to inadequate time taken by the employee. Regarding meal breaks, the employer must provide a break of at least half an hour for every work period which is longer than five hours. The meal break must begin no later than four hours and 59 minutes into the employee’s shift.

The employee can only voluntarily choose not to take the meal break if the shift is less than 6 hours long. Additionally, meal breaks can be unpaid if and only if the following conditions are met: the breaks are less than 30 minutes long; the employee is relieved of all duty; and the employee is free to leave the premises. Of course labor laws breaks permit meal breaks to be longer than 30 minutes, at the discretion of the employer.

According to labor laws breaks, a second meal break of no fewer than 30 minutes must be supplied for all workdays on which an employee works over 10 hours. To summarize the labor laws breaks discussed thus far, the following number of meal breaks must be supplied: o meal breaks for any hours worked between 0 and 3 hours; 1 meal break for any hours worked between 3 and 10 hours (although it is optional for the employee up to the 6th hour); and 2 meal breaks for any hours worked between 10 and 18 hours (2nd break is optional for the employee if they work between 10 and 12 hours).

If the employer fails to provide a meal break and consequently violates labor laws breaks, they owe the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate for each meal break missed. It is therefore up to the employer to ensure that employees actually take meal breaks.