EAF frequently fields questions regarding an employer’s obligation to provide meal and rest periods to employees. Although many state child labor laws address the issue of rest and meal periods for employees under age 18, this article focuses strictly on an employer’s obligation to provide rest and meal periods to adult employees.
Federal law does not require employers to provide meal or rest periods to employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) basically says that IF an employer provides a break of 20 minutes or less, it has to be counted as hours worked and paid. However, the FLSA goes on to say that if the employer provides a meal break of 30 minutes or more AND the employee is completely relieved of duty that time does not have to be counted as hours worked and may be unpaid.
Federal law does require employers to provide regular breaks to nursing mothers for the first 12 months after the birth of a child in order to express milk. Employers with 50 or more employees must provide a room other than a restroom where the mother may express her milk in private. The Department of Labor Fact Sheet provides additional information on this topic.
Because many states have their own laws regarding meal and rest periods, employers sometimes are unsure of what their obligations are under a particular state’s law. To help our members, we are providing a state comparison chart that we downloaded from the CCH HR Compliance Library. This state law comparison tool is available to all members on the members-only section of our website and can be customized to reflect only those states in which you operate.
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