2021 Employee Break Laws

If you’re running a business, it’s in your best interest to stay within the law. When it comes to employee break laws, that falls under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

However, the FLSA doesn’t specifically state that employers need to provide employees with meals or breaks. The act mainly covers minimum wage, overtime pay, age requirement, and those kinds of rules and regulations.

But if you’re a reasonable employer, you probably let your employees take breaks and eat meals, and those are subject to federal regulation under the FLSA. Failure to follow federal and state laws could result in lawsuits and penalties that could be costly to your business.

Offering Short Breaks

You can’t ask your employees to clock out every time they take a short break. The federal law requires you to pay for breaks lasting up to 20 minutes. Those hours also count towards overtime.

Offering Meal Breaks

Any meal break that lasts 30 minutes or longer is not compensatable as long as the employee is fully relieved of their work duties. But that’s where it gets tricky because a lot of employees eat lunch at their desks while they are working.

As a result of American employees wanting to get more work done during the workday, 62% say they take their lunch break at their desks. By law, those workers should be paid for their lunch breaks according to the FLSA.

To avoid a violation, both unpaid and paid breaks should always be tracked. Furthermore, both managers and their subordinates should be on the same page when it comes to employee break expectations.

What to Watch Out For

If your business is using a time and attendance software that automatically clocks out employees for lunch, that could be problematic. If employees worked through their 30+ minute break or they were responsible for tasks while they ate lunch, you could be at risk for penalties and lawsuits.

State Break Laws

In addition to federal break laws, you should also follow your state employee break laws. Let’s outline the laws for the four most populated states:

  • California– Required breaks for meals, rest, and recovery. A mandatory 30-minute unpaid break for shifts over 5 hours, and two for 10-hour workdays. Employers don’t have to provide 30-minute unpaid breaks to employees that work 6-hours or less.
  • Texas– None required. The state only requires a full day’s rest period to worship or rest every 7 days.
  • Florida– Only requires meal and rest breaks for minors that work 4 consecutive hours without a 30-minute break. However, there are exceptions so check your state laws.
  • New York– Requires breaks for breastfeeding, health attendants, and full-day rest breaks. Must be allowed a 30-minute lunch break and two 30-minute lunch breaks if working before 11 am until after 7 pm.

If you operate in another state, see your state laws by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor. Also, don’t forget your local city employee break laws as well.

Let InfiniTime Help

Complying with federal, state, and local employee break laws is difficult and confusing. But with a fully hosted SaaS workforce management solution by InfiniTime, you can more easily comply with those laws. Our solution keeps records for years so you don’t have to risk violations or lawsuits. You can also track meal breaks of your remote workers as well.

Would you like to see how InfiniTime helps you keep track of employee breaks? Request a demo today! For more information on the ever-changing legal landscape for businesses, click here.