Work Breaks: Paid or Not?

Federal law does not require an employer to offer lunch or coffee breaks. However, if an employer starts offering these breaks, then there are certain legal requirements.

Paid Work Breaks

If an employer offers a work break that is under 30 minutes, then federal law considers the breaks as compensable. This means that the  employer must pay the employee for the time spent taking a work break. Short work breaks should also be included in determining whether an employee worked overtime.

Unpaid Work Breaks

If an employer offers a lunch break (bona fide meal period) that is 30 minutes or more, then the employer is not required to pay for the lunch break.  Employers should require all employees to clock-out for lunch breaks.

It is important for employers to understand these and other  their legal requirements regarding wage and hour law.