Rules for Meal and Rest Periods

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAcafe-675219_1920) does not require that employers provide any rest or meal breaks to employees other than for nursing mothers. However, if an employer decides to offer these breaks to their employees, the FLSA does provide some rules that must be followed:

  • Breaks of a short duration (typically 20 minutes or less) should be paid breaks that are counted as time worked and should be included in the total hours calculation for overtime purposes. This includes restroom breaks, breaks to get a beverage, smoke breaks, etc.
  • Meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) can be omitted from total hours worked and can be unpaid breaks when an employee is relieved of all job responsibilities for the duration of the break.

Although there is no federal requirement, many states do require that employees are provided to employees. If there is ever a situation where both state law and a portion of the FLSA are applicable, the law that is most favorable for the employee must be followed.

See the list below for current state requirements.

Alabama – No requirements for private employers, except minors age 14-15 who work at least 5 consecutive hours must be given a 30-minute meal/rest break. Breaks of less than 30 minutes cannot be counted as breaking up the period of continuous work.

Alaska – No requirements for private employers, except minors under the age of 18 working at least 6 consecutive hours must be given a 30 minute unpaid break. The break must be scheduled after the minor has worked 1.5 hours but before the final hour of work. Employers are also required to give minors a 30 minute break after 5 consecutive hours of work before working any additional hours. The requirements may be changed by an agreement between the employer and the minor or by a collective bargaining agreement.

Arizona – No requirements for private employers.

Arkansas – No requirements for private employers. Breaks of 20 minutes or less must be paid and counted as time worked.

California – Nonexempt employees working more than 5 hours per day must be provided a 30-minute unpaid break. If the employee will work no more than 6 hours in the day the meal period can be waived by mutual written consent of both the employer and the employee.

Employees working more than 10 hours per day must be provided with a second meal period of at least 30 minutes. If the employee will work no more than 12 hours in the day the second meal period can be waived by mutual written consent of both the employer and the employee.

If an employee is not provided with meal periods as required the employer must pay the employee for an additional hour of pay for each day the meal period is not provided.

In the health care industry, if an employee works 8 or more hours they may voluntarily waive their right to one of 2 meal periods. The waiver must be in writing and signed by both the employee and the employer. The waiver can be revoked by the employee at any time by providing at least one day’s written notice.

Employers must allow non-exempt employees a rest period of at least 10 consecutive minutes for each 4 hours of work performed. If an employee will work a total of 3.5 hours or less in one day, a rest period is not required. The rest periods should be counted as time worked and must be paid breaks. Employers who do not provide a rest period to an employee must pay the employee for one additional hour of pay for each day the rest period is not provided.

Colorado – Employees working more than 5 consecutive hours are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid meal break in which they are relieved of all work responsibilities. If the nature of the employer’s business does not allow for an uninterrupted break, the employee must be allowed to consume a meal while working (paid time).

Employees in certain industries must be provided with a 10-minute paid rest break for every 4 hours worked (which should be as close as possible to the middle of each 4 hour work period). This includes the following industries: food & beverage occupations, health & medical, commercial support, and retail/service.

The rest break requirement does not apply to administrative, executive, professional and outside sales employees, property managers, interstate driers, driver helpers, loaders or mechanics of motor carriers, taxi cab drivers, bona fide volunteers, and students employed in a work experience study program.

Connecticut – Employees working 7.5 or more consecutive hours must be provided a meal period of at least 30 minutes. This meal period should be provided at least 2 hours before the end of the work day. There are some exceptions: 1) the duties of the position can only be performed by one employee; 2) there are less than 5 employees employed on the employee’s shift at a single place of employment; 3) he employer’s operations requires that employees are available to respond to urgent conditions at all times, 4) 30 or more minutes of paid breaks are provided by the employer within each 7.5 hours of work performed.

A written agreement can be established by an employee and employer with a different schedule for meal periods.

Delaware – All employees working at least 7.5 consecutive hours per day must receive a meal period of at least 30 minutes at least 2 hours after the start of work time but at least 2 hours after the start of work time but at least 2 hours prior to the end of the work time. If the employee is completely relieved of all work duties during the break then it can be unpaid.

There are some exceptions to this requirement, however the employee exceptions still must be allowed to consume a meal during work time if working at least 7.5 hours consecutively. The exceptions are as follows:

  1. Allowing the employee a 30 minute break would have an adverse affect on public safety;
  2. There are less than 5 employees on the shift;
  3. Only one employee may perform the position;
  4. The employer’s operations require employees to be available to respond to urgent conditions.

Minors may not work more than 5 hours continuously without a 30 minute or more break relived of all work duties.

Florida – Employers are generally not required to provide breaks except for minors under age 18 who must be provided a 30 minute uninterrupted break after no more than 4 consecutive hours of work.

Georgia – No requirement for private employers.

Hawaii – Generally no requirement for private employers, except for minors age 14-15 who must receive a 30 minute meal or rest break after 5 hours of work.

Idaho – No requirement for private employers.

Illinois – Unpaid meal breaks of at least 20 minutes must be provided to employees working at least 7.5 continuous hours within the first 5 hours of work time.

Indiana – Generally there is no requirement for private employers, except minors under 18 who must receive one or two rest breaks totaling at least 30 minutes if they work 6 or more consecutive hours. Indiana employers should maintain break logs to document all breaks, paid and unpaid, provided to minors.

Iowa – Generally there is no requirement for private employers, except minors under 16 working 5 or more hours must receive a break of at least 30 minutes.

Kansas – No requirement for employers.

Kentucky – Employees must given a “reasonable” lunch period near the middle of the employee’s shift (must be between 3-5 hours from start of shift). Employees must also be allowed a paid 10-minute break for every 4 hours worked.

Louisiana – No requirements, except minors under 18 working more than 5 consecutive hours must be provided an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes.

Maine – Employees working at least 6 consecutive hours have the right to take 30 consecutive minutes of rest except in cases of emergency where there is danger to property, life, public safety or public health. Employers with less than three employees on duty at one time are not required to provide this break as long as the employees are permitted to take breaks throughout the work day.

Certain employees are exempt from these requirements such as executive, administrative and professional employees who are salaried and making an annual wage of at least 3,000 times the state minimum hourly wage, some agricultural employees, sales employees paid by commission and whose hours and place of employment are not substantially controlled by the employer, and taxi drivers.

Maryland – Generally no requirement for private employers. Minors under 18 must have a 30-minute break for every 5 hours worked. Certain retail establishments are entitled to a break depending on the number of hours worked pursuant to the Health Retail Employee Act. For more information click here.

Massachusetts – Most employers must be given a 30-minute meal period after 6 hours of work. Note domestic workers have special meal rest break rules under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (for more information click here).

Michigan – Generally no requirements for employers except minors working at least 5 consecutive hours must be provided a meal and rest break of at least 30 minutes.

Minnesota – Employees working at least 8 consecutive hours must be given “sufficient” time to eat a meal. This break may be unpaid as long as it is at least 20 minutes long. In addition to the meal break, employees must be allowed adequate time every 4 consecutive hours to utilize the restroom.

Mississippi – No requirements for private employers.

Missouri – No requirements for private employers.

Montana – No requirement for private employers. If breaks are provided then rest breaks must count as time worked and meal breaks of 30 minutes or more where an employee is relieved of all duties may be unpaid.

Nebraska – No requirements for private employers.

Nevada – Employees must be provided a 30-minute unpaid meal period for every 8 consecutive hours of work. Employees must also be permitted to a 10-minute rest period for every 4 hours of work, unless the employee works less than 3.5 hours in the day. There are some exceptions such as when a place of employment only has one employee or when the employer has been granted an exemption from the Nevada Labor Commissioner based on business necessity.

New Hampshire – Employees working more than 5 consecutive hours must be given a 30-minute meal period unless they are allowed to eat during work.

New Jersey – Generally no requirement for employers. Minors under 18 working at least 5 consecutive hours must be given a meal period of at least 30 minutes.

New Mexico – No requirement for employers. If meal breaks are provided they must be paid unless the break is at least 30 minutes long.

New York – Employees working at least 6 hours, including over 11 am – 2 pm, are entitled to a meal period of at least 30 minutes between 11 am – 2 pm. Employees starting before 11 am and working until after 7 pm must also be allowed a second meal period between 5-7 pm of at least 20 minutes. Employees working at least 6 hours and starting between 1 pm and 6 am must be allowed a meal break of at least 45 minutes in the middle of their shift.

When only one employee is on duty or is the only one performing a specific job, the employee may voluntarily agree to eat while working. However, if an employee requests a meal break away from work duties the employer must provide it.

North Carolina – No requirement except minors under 16 must be given a 30-minute break after 5 hours of work.

North Dakota – When 2 or more employees are on duty an employee must be given a 30 minute meal break when working more than 5 hours.

Ohio – No requirements except minors under 18 must be given an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes for every 5 hours worked.

Oklahoma – No requirements except minors under 16 must be given a 30-minute break for every 5 consecutive hours worked and one total hour of rest for every 8 hours of work.

Oregon – Non-exempt employees working at least 6 hours must receive a 30-minute meal break. If an employee works 6-7 hours the break must occur between the 2nd and 5th hour of work.  If an employee works longer than 7 hours the break must occur between the 3rd and 6th hour of work. If an employee works 14 or more hours they must be allowed at least one more meal break.

Minors must take their break of at least 30 minutes by no later than 5 hours and 1 minute after their starting time. Minors age 14-15 must be relived of all duties.

In addition to meal breaks, employees must receive a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes (or at least 15 minutes for minors) for every 4 hours worked.

Employees may not legally waive their rights to receive required breaks and can be disciplined by the employer for failure to take all required breaks.

Pennsylvania – No requirements for employers except minors under 18 must be given a meal period of at least 30 minutes if working more than 5 consecutive hours.

Rhode Island – Employees working at least 6 hours must be given a 20 minute meal period. Employees working at least 8 hours must be given a 30 minute meal period. Meal periods can be unpaid. Exceptions: healthcare facilities and companies with fewer than 3 employees on duty at a work site.

South Carolina – No requirements for employers.

South Dakota – No requirements for employers.

Tennessee – Employees working at least 6 hours must be given a 30 minute break. The break must take place sometime after the first hour of work. Employees working a job which allows for ample opportunity for rest are not required to receive this break. Also, tipped employees can waive the break requirement if both the employee and employer agree under certain conditions. For more information about the waiver criteria click here.

Texas – No requirements for employers.

Utah – No requirements for employers. Minors under 18 must be allowed a 30 minute or more meal period by no later than the fifth hour of their shift. In addition, minors must receive a 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours worked, but may not work more than 3 consecutive hours without a 10-minute rest break.

Vermont – Private employers should provide employees with “reasonable opportunities” throughout the day to eat and use the restroom facilities.

Virginia – No requirements except minors under age 16 working more than 5 consecutive hours must be permitted at least a 30 minute break.

Washington – Employees working more than 5 hours must receive a 30-minute meal break beginning between 2-5 hours after the start of their shift.

Minors 14-15 years old may not work more than 4 hours without receiving a 30 minute meal break. Minors 16-17 years old may not work more than 5 hours without receiving a 30 minute meal break.

Employees must be allowed at least 10 minutes for a rest break for every 4 hours worked in addition to the required meal breaks. An employee may not be required to work more than 3 consecutive hours without a rest break.

Minors 14-15 years old must receive a rest break of at least 10 minutes every 2 hours worked. Minors 16-17 years old must receive a rest break of at least 10 minutes every 3 hours (for each 4 hours worked).

West Virginia – When employees are not given breaks and/or not allowed to eat while working, they must be provided with a meal period of at least 20 minutes when working for at least 6 hours. Minors under 16 must be allowed a 30-minute meal break when working 5 consecutive hours.

Wisconsin – No requirement for employees over 18. Minors must be allowed a meal break close to the usual meal time (6 am, 12 noon, 6 pm, or 12 midnight) or near the middle of the shift.

For employees over 18 the above rules are recommended but not required. Shifts of more than 6 hours without a meal break should be avoided.

For all employees, if a break of less than 30 consecutive minutes is taken it should be counted as paid work time.

Wyoming – No requirements for private employers.