State Labor Law Breaks For 8 Hour Days | 5 mins read

Managing State Labor Law Breaks for 8 Hour Days

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Hanh Truong

By Hanh Truong

Introduction to State Labor Law Breaks for 8 Hour Days

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not outline requirements for meal or rest breaks for employees. Despite this, having no breaks, especially during 8-hour workdays is almost unheard of. This is because states will have their own mandates for employee breaks. Business operators should assess their state labor laws and make sure they are compliant with them.

Understanding State Labor Laws

Labor guidelines are mostly mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to promote healthy and safe workplace environments. It ensures employees are protected at their job and treated fairly and humanely. For instance, with regulated breaks, staff members can recharge, mentally and physically.

Understanding federal and state labor laws is a key component to operating a business. Non-compliance can result in costly financial penalties, lawsuits, and, potentially, jail time. Additionally, non-compliant business owners may have to pay back pay, interest, and compensation for lost benefits. These ramifications can significantly impact an organization's reputation and brand.

To prevent violating laws and risking workforce management, business operators need to be knowledgeable about their state and federal guidelines. Each state typically has its own requirements regarding break times. The following are the requirements of some states.

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California

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California law states that employees are entitled to multiple breaks during their shifts, which entail meal, rest, and recovery breaks. The state also requires employers to give employees a day of a rest break. Some cities within California will have additional break requirements. Local business owners should review these guidelines in detail to remain compliant.

  • California Meal Breaks - Nonexempt employees who work 5 hours or more each day must have at least a 30-minute unpaid meal break. If they work less than 6 hours, they have the right to waive their meal break with written consent.
  • California Rest Breaks - Nonexempt employees must have a rest period every 4 hours they are on shift. And if possible, they should take it in the middle of their shift.
  • California Day of Rest - Every 7 days, employees must have 1 day of rest. The exception to this guideline is for staff who work less than 30 hours a week or less than 6 hours per day.

New York

The State of New York has laws regarding meal breaks and rest periods, as well as breaks for specific occupations.

  • New York Meal Breaks - People who work during lunchtimes are allowed to have 30 minutes for a meal break. Those that work before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m. will get a meal break of at least 20 minutes. Staffers that work 6 hours between 1-6 p.m. must have a meal break of 45 minutes or more.
  • New York Rest Breaks - Rest breaks are not required in New York, but if an employee takes a break for less than 20 minutes, employers must count it as compensable time.
  • New York Home Health Care Breaks - Those that work as home health care attendants and are on duty for 24 hours must be paid for all 24 hours. This includes all times used for resting and eating. Although this is not state law, this guideline was issued by the New York State appeals court.
  • New York Day of Rest - Similar to California, New York has a day of rest. Employees are entitled to have 1 full day of rest each calendar week if they work in factories, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and apartment buildings.

How to Manage Breaks to Abide by State Labor Laws

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Managing breaks is not only important for abiding by labor laws, but it also ensures the work environment is safe and productive. The following are some tips business owners should consider to track breaks and make sure employees are taking them.

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Establish an Employee Break Policy

Creating policies for when to take breaks will ensure everyone in the company is on the same page. These guidelines should follow state, local, and federal regulations. Managers should also outline how long breaks are, which rest periods are paid, and what employees can do during their breaks. For example, managers can designate specific spaces in their store where staff members can use their phones and rest.

Inform and Train Employees


Training and communicating policies to employees will prevent noncompliance. Management can hand out material that sets out all the labor policies and have a handbook in their establishment. They should also review federal and state laws regarding pay and breaks with staff members to prevent confusion and to ensure they know their rights.

Use Time Tracking Software

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The latest time clock tools will allow companies to easily track employee work hours and breaks. All the staff member needs to do is clock in and out using the time clock app whenever they arrive to work, take breaks, and leave. The system will collect this data and provide insights into whether or not employees are taking their breaks and how long they are taking them.

Key Takeaways to State Labor Law Breaks for 8 Hour Days


  • Each state has its own labor laws regarding how many breaks employees get during their shifts.
  • Business owners need to do their due diligence and make sure they are following all labor law rules.
  • Failure to do so will result in costly penalties, jail time, and damage to business reputation. It will also impact employee workflows and productivity.
  • Some ways to effectively manage breaks are to create break time policies and use time tracking software.

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