Breakdown of U.S. state labor laws for lunch breaks
Below is a breakdown of any additional state labor laws for workers in the U.S
Alabama only has break laws for minor employees. Employees aged 14 and 15 must be allowed to have a 30-minute break during a working day of more than five hours.
Any breaks that are less than 30 minutes cannot be counted and the 30 minutes must be uninterrupted.
Like Alabama, Alaska only has break laws for minors. A minor employee must be given an uninterrupted 30-minute break if they work more than six hours. This break can be unpaid.
The break must be given at a minimum after the first hour and a half of work and a maximum before the last hour of the employee’s work.
If agreed to, employer and employee may agree to modify the break requirements but this must be agreed by both parties.
Arizona does not have any state labor laws for employee lunch or rest breaks.
Arkansas does not require rest or meal breaks and the employer is not required to pay for any break times given if the employee is relieved of their work duties. If rest breaks are given, any rest break under 20 minutes must be counted as time worked.
California has multiple state labor break laws for employees.
Non-exempt employees who work more than five hours per day are required to receive a 30-minute unpaid meal break. If this employee works 6 hours or fewer, this break can be waived if both the employer and employee provide written consent.
If an employee works more than 10 hours in a day, they must be provided with a second 30-minute unpaid break period. If the workday is less than a total of 12 hours, this second break can be waived by mutual written agreement.
If break times are failed to be given or are not given fully, the employer must pay an additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular pay rate for each day that the breaks were not provided or were not correctly provided.
If you employ people in the healthcare sector, employees who work more than eight hours can voluntarily waive one of their two meal breaks. This waiver must be signed by both employer and employee and must be given with a minimum of one day’s notice.
Rest break laws in California are also strictly defined. Nonexempt employees are entitled to rest periods throughout their working day. If possible, this rest time should be in the middle of the working shift. If there are circumstances that prevent an employee from taking their break in the middle of the working shift, they must be allowed to take it at another time of their choosing.
The amount of rest time an employee is entitled to depends on the amount of hours they work per shift. Every four hours worked entitles an employee to an uninterrupted work break of 10 minutes.
These employee rest breaks are counted as work and must be paid.
Even though this time is short and is paid by the employer, the employee is not required to stay on work premises and the company cannot require the employee to stay during this rest period. The employee must also be relieved of all their work duties during these 10-minute rest break intervals.
In Colorado, employees who work more than five hours must receive a meal break of at least 30 minutes. If the employee is relieved of all their work-related duties during this time, the meal break can be unpaid.
During the mandatory meal breaks, employees are allowed to pursue personal activities and the employer cannot prevent the employee from enjoying personal time during these break periods.
If the employee is not fully relieved from their work duties and remains responsible for any work activities, then the break must be paid by the employer.
Certain employees are exempt from rest and meal break requirements. Exempt employee categories include: administrative, executive, supervisory, professional and outside sales employees.
In certain industries, employees must be allowed a 10-minute break for every four hours of working time. These industries include:
- Retained and Service Occupations
- Food and Beverage
- Health and Medical
- Commercial Support
Employee break laws in Delaware require employees to be given 30 minutes break for a meal time if an employee works more than 7.5 hours in a day. This break time must happen at least two hours into the shift and before the final two hours of the shift.
In Delaware, employee break times may be unpaid if the employee is relieved of all of their work-related duties and the 30 minutes must be uninterrupted.
District of Columbia
Washington D.C. does not require break times or periods for anyone other than nursing mothers.
Nursing mothers must be provided a reasonable amount of time to go to a dedicated space that is sanitary and close to the employee to express breast milk. The room used cannot be the bathroom or toilet. This break time can coincide with any other break times given by your company and does not have to be an individual time of its own.
Like other states, Florida has break laws for minors only. Minors are not allowed to work more than four hours in a row without a 30-minute break.
There are, however, four exceptions to this rule:
- 16-17 year olds who have graduated from high school
- Minors who have not graduated high school and are still attending high school are required to hold a valid certificate of exemption to this rule signed by the school superintendent
- Minors who are enrolled in a public school and who qualify for a hardship exemption such as economic necessity
- Minors who are employed in domestic service in private homes or employed by their parents or pages employed in the Florida legislature
Georgia does not have any specified rest or break laws. The state does however require a break for nursing mothers and an accommodation of breaks required by those with religious beliefs.
Nursing mothers must be able to express breast milk during unpaid breaks and they also must be provided with a room which is not a restroom or toilet. Like in Washington D.C., this break time can coincide with any other breaks provided by the employer and does not have to be paid.
Idaho has no employee break laws.
Illinois has several employee break and rest laws and requirements.
Employees working 7.5 hours or more must be provided with a 20 minute unpaid meal break. This break cannot be given more than five hours after the start of the work period.
Employers must provide at least one day of rest per week. However, there are five exceptions to this rule:
- Part-time employees who work 20 hours or less are exempt
- Employees who are vital to a business are exempt. These are employees who are needed in the case of machinery breakdown or to provide urgent equipment repairs or employees who are experienced and able to prevent other employee injury or damage to property.
- Employees in agriculture, mining, or security are exempt
- Professional, administrative, and executive employees are exempt
Indiana has no employee break or meal laws unless the employee is a minor. Minors must be provided one or two rest periods that total 30 minutes when the employee works over six consecutive hours. These breaks can be taken at any time during the working period.
Iowa does not require any meal or break periods for adult employees. For minors, Iowa requires employees under the age of 16 to be given a 30-minute break when working 5 hours or more.
Kentucky requires that employees be provided a reasonable lunch period close to the middle of an employees shift. This break cannot be earlier than three hours from the start of the shift and can be no later than five hours into a shift.
Like other states, Louisiana only has employee break laws for minors. Employees under the age of 18 must be given a 30-minute meal break when they work five or more consecutive hours. This break can be unpaid.
Maine has requirements for both employee meal breaks and rest breaks. All employees who work six or more hours are entitled to a 30-minute uninterrupted break, and this must be taken. If the employee is completely relieved of their duties, this break can be unpaid.
Employers with three employees or fewer on duty at one time are not required to provide these rest periods. However, when this is the case, employers must provide shorter, frequent rest breaks for their three or fewer employees.
In cases where an employees break would cause a danger to life, public safety, property, or public health, the 30-minute break time is not required and the employee can work for the duration of their shift without a break.
Maryland has employee break laws for minors and retail workers. Minors must be given a 30-minute break for every five hours they work. Retail workers are entitled to short 15-minute break for shifts between four and six consecutive hours. For shifts of six hours or longer, employees are entitled to a 30-minute break.
Employees must be given a 30-minute break after six hours of work. Employees must also be given a full day of rest after working for six consecutive days. This day of rest is defined as a full 24 hours and must include the time period between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Michigan has employee break laws for minors only. Minors are required to be given a 30-minute consecutive break for every five hours worked.
Minnesota employees must be given a meal break that provides sufficient time to eat. This break may be unpaid if it is longer than 20 minutes. For breaks under 20 minutes, employees are required to be paid.
Nursing mothers must be provided with sufficient unpaid break times each day to express milk. These breaks can happen at the same time as other breaks and are not required to be exclusive. Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a sanitary space to express milk that is close to the employee’s working area and is free from a toilet.
All employees must be given a restroom break after every four hours of work.
Mississippi has no meal or rest break laws.
Rest breaks are not required by Montana state law. However, if the employer provides rest or meal breaks, this must be counted as time worked.
Nebraska does not require any employee break times or meal breaks.
Employees must receive a 30-minute meal break after working five hours. If employees are able to eat during work time, while working, and the employer allows employees to work, a meal break is not required.
If an employee works on a Sunday that employee must be given a 24-hour rest during the following 6 days.
Employers requiring employees to work on a Sunday must post a list of employees required to work on Sundays and when their day of rest is during the following six days. This list must be posted within the workplace and is also required to be filed with the New Hampshire Labor Commissioner.
Nevada has employee break law requirements for breaks, rest, nursing mothers, and domestic mothers. These laws are more relaxed than other states in that employees must be provided with a short break of 10 minutes for every four hours worked and employees must also receive a break of 30-minutes after working eight consecutive hours.
For domestic workers who live in the household in which they work, the employee and employer may agree in writing to exclude certain breaks from the employee’s wages. These exclusions include:
- Meal breaks of at least 30 minutes
- Sleep breaks shorter than eight hours
- All periods of complete freedom where the domestic worker is allowed to leave the premises
Employees working during a typical lunch period are required to have a 30-minute meal break. Employees working before 11:00 am and after 7:00 pm are required to have a further second meal break of at least 20 minutes.
Employees who work at least six hours between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm must be allowed a meal break of a minimum of 45 minutes. This break should not fall at the beginning or end of the time worked.
In a situation where an employee is the only employee of their type or occupation, the employee may choose to volunteer to forgo their work break requirement. If this is the case, the employee must be permitted to eat while working. If this employee requests a meal break, this break request must be granted.
All employees who work five hours or more are required to have a 30-minute meal break. This applies whenever there are two or more employees working at a time. If the employee is completely removed from all work-related duties, this break can be unpaid.
Minors must be given a 30-minute break for every five hours of work. This break is not required to be paid.
Employees under the age of 16 must be given a 30-minute break for every five hours of work. These employees must also be given one hour of rest per every eight hours worked.
Employees in Oregon are entitled to a meal break of 30 minutes for every six hours worked. If the work shift is between six and seven hours, the meal break must take place between hours two and five. If the work shift is longer than seven hours, the break must be given between hours three and six.
Minors working in Oregon must be given a meal break of at least 30-minutes during their work and this must be no later than five hours and one minute after their work shift starts.
Employees working five hours or more must receive a 30-minute meal break.
Employees must be given a 20-minute break when working six hours or more. Employees working eight hours or more must be given a 30-minute meal break. These breaks can be unpaid.
Rhode Island has protections in place for employees who refuse to work on Sundays or holidays. Employers are prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against employees who refuse to work these days.
There are no required meal breaks or rest period requirements.
There are no required meal breaks or rest period requirements.
Employees working six or more hours must be given a 30-minute break. This break may not be scheduled within the first hour of the working shift.
Employees working in an environment or business that provides ample short breaks are exempt from break requirements. This means if your employees are able to take many short breaks throughout their day, they are not entitled to a full break.
Further exemptions can apply to employees that are tipped. If both the employer and employee agree, the 30-minute rest period can be waived.
There are no required meal breaks or rest period requirements, however, employers must provide employees with a minimum of 24 hours rest every seven working days.
Minor employees must be given a meal break of at least 30-minutes for every five hours the employee works in addition to a break of 10 minutes for every four hours worked. The 30-minute break must be no later than five hours after the employee starts working.
If the employee is not relieved of all of their working duties, this break must be paid.
Minors are prohibited from working more than three consecutive hours without a break of 10 minutes or more.
There are no required meal breaks or rest period requirements other than a requirement to provide employees with ample opportunity for bathroom breaks and short eating breaks.
Minors are required to have a break of 30 minutes or longer after five hours of consecutive work.
Employees working five hours or more are required to receive a 30 minute break. This must be taken no earlier than two hours into the shift and no later than five hours into the shift.
Any breaks must ideally be given in the middle of the working shift.
Minors aged 14 and 15 are no longer able to work more than four hours without being given a meal period that is a minimum of 30 minutes. Employees aged 16 and 17 are prohibited from working more than five hours without a meal break of a minimum of 30 minutes. This break must fall between the 2nd and 5th hours of work. If minors are required to work overtime, they must be given an additional 30-minute break before an overtime shift that is three or more hours longer than the typical working day.
Meal breaks are able to be unpaid if employees are relieved of all working duties. If the employee is required to remain on the work premises the break must be paid.
Employees who are prohibited from eating while working and are not allowed a lunch break are required to be given a 20-minute break when working six or more hours.
Employees under the age of 16 must be given a 30-minute meal break when working five or more hours.
The state of Wisconsin recommends employers give breaks to all adult employees and requires breaks be given to minors.
Adults are required to be given breaks of 30 minutes or longer when working six or more hours in a shift.
If an employee works through the hours of 6:00am, 12:00pm, 6:00pm, or 12:00am, employees must be given a meal break.