Lunch Break Laws By State | 4 mins read

Understanding Lunch Break Laws by State

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Hanh Truong

By Hanh Truong

Breaking Down Lunch Break Laws by State

Lunch breaks are time periods within the workday where employees can clock out from work and rest or refuel before returning to finish their shifts. Each state enacts its own lunch break laws, outlining when and how long these breaks can be. It is critical that employers stay aware of the state and local standards that regulate their operations. Doing so will ensure compliance and will prevent hefty lawsuits and fines.

Allowing employees to have proper lunch breaks is also beneficial for staffers' well-being and productivity as well. With time to rest and eat, employees can recharge and lower their stress levels. Staff members will also be less prone to feeling burnt out and will be able to engage with their teams better.

To maintain a satisfied workforce and to keep up with the latest lunch break laws, employers need to monitor the news and policy decisions. Depending on an organization's budget, owners can hire a compliance officer or consultant. There are also business systems, such as scheduling and time tracking software, that can alert managers of labor law compliance.

Lunch Break Laws by State

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While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not have federal requirements for meal and break periods, state governments do. Each region has its unique guidelines, as well as reasons why they have those laws in place. The following are some lunch break laws according to each state.

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California

California-based workers are entitled to a lunch break of half an hour if they are working more than 5 hours in a shift. However, if they are working 6 hours or less, they can establish an agreement with their employer to waive their meal period. If this is the case, employers must make sure to have proper documentation of the waiver. At any time, employees can revoke the agreement if they want.

Additionally, if an employee works more than 10 hours a day, they must have a second meal period. They must have their first meal break before their 5th hour of work and their 2nd meal break before the 10th hour. California state law does not require employers to pay their employees for meal breaks.

Florida

According to Florida law, employers must provide nonexempt employees who are under 18 years old a meal break of at least 30 minutes if they work over 4 hours. As for staff members over the age of 18 years old, there is no state law on meal periods. However, reputable companies will allow their employees to have unpaid meal breaks for about 30 minutes or more.

New York

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New York state law has various break time laws for different industries. For example, those in the mercantile business are entitled to at least 30 minutes in the afternoon for a meal break. Any employee that is working more than 6 hours and works from 11 am to 2 pm is also entitled to at least a 30-minute meal break. People who work before 11 am and after 7 pm are allowed to have a second meal period for at least 20 minutes. Usually, the second meal break should be taken between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Additionally, if a person is employed in a shift that is 6 hours or more and that starts within 1 pm and 6 am, then they must take a meal break of at least 45 minutes. This break should be taken midway through a shift. These laws will vary for factory employees and health attendants, due to the different nature of the work.

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Texas

Texas labor laws do not have guidelines on meal breaks. Generally, it is up to the employer if they choose to enforce a meal period for work shifts. Many companies will allow their staff to have an unpaid break period for about 30 minutes or more.

Key Takeaways for Lunch Break Laws by State

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  • Lunch break laws indicate when and how many times an employee can clock out from work and rest or have a meal.
  • Laws regarding meal breaks and rest periods will often vary from state to state.
  • Employers need to be aware of their state's regulations to ensure compliance.
  • States that have meal break regulations include New York and California.

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