HR Tips & Insights
This is one of the most common questions that I encounter. Thank you for asking. Under Federal Law, employers are not regulated to offer rest or meal periods to employees. However, unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly communicated to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and any extension of the break will be punished. It is strongly recommended that this be stated clearly in the Employee Handbook or Policy & Procedure Manual.
Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes), serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and, thus, are not work time and are not compensable, unless the employee was interrupted during their 30 minute or greater meal period and must become engaged in work activity.
There are certain states that mandate breaks/meal periods. To find out whether your state is included and you would like to ensure compliance, click here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm.