Meal and Break Time

Full Video Transcript

Meal and break times can be a complicated employment matter. Part of the reason for this is because there are different requirements under federal versus state laws. For instance, federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks, but some states require that a meal break be provided. Bona fide meal periods are not considered work time under federal law, so employees are not entitled to compensation for such time under federal law. On the other hand, short break time, typically between five- and 20-minute periods, when offered by an employer is considered compensable time under federal law. Problems tend to arise when certain employees take unauthorized extensions of break time and others do not. This is where it can get tricky in counting a particular employee's total compensable work time. However, failing to properly provide and/or pay employees for meal and break times, on top of inadequate recordkeeping of the same, can subject employers to employee lawsuits and possibly owing of significant back pay.

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