Here's All You Need to Know About Meal and Break Laws by State

5 January 2023

meal and break laws

Meal and rest break compliance laws vary from state to state. Employers must comply with the laws in their particular jurisdiction to avoid legal repercussions and to ensure that they do not operate in ways that adversely affect public safety.

Therefore, compliance with meal and rest break laws is essential for protecting the health and safety of employees, avoiding employee fatigue, and ensuring that employers provide a fair work environment for all their staff.

While these laws are in place to ensure the welfare of employees, failure to comply can result in fines and other legal ramifications.

Hence, to stay compliant, employers must understand the meal and rest break regulations applicable to their state.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the meal and rest break laws by state.

Alabama

In Alabama, the law does not require employers to provide meal periods or break times. As such, federal meal break and rest break laws apply.

According to The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not mandated to pay for breaks that last longer than 20 minutes.

Therefore, any employer who allows an employee a longer break is not mandated by law to pay for the same. This is because all job duties have been stripped off at this time.

It is vital to note that this rule applies to all states that lack relevant meal and rest break compliance laws.

Alaska

Alaska meal and rest break laws are based on Alaska Statute 23.10.350(c).

This law demands employers to provide 14-17-year-old employees with 30-minute breaks when they work for five consecutive hours.

Employers must issue these breaks after the first hour and 30 minutes of work, and before the last hour of work.

It is fundamental to add that Alaska meal and rest break regulations do not provide for breaks targeting workers aged 18 and over. Breaks that are 20 minutes or less must be compensated, while no payment is made for those that last longer.

Arizona

Arizona lacks relevant meal and rest break rules, meaning that the federal rule applies (payment is mandatory for breaks that last less than 20 minutes, while no payment is to be offered for longer break periods, as long as employees are stripped of all work duties).

Arkansas

The only applicable meal and rest break laws in Arkansas are associated with entertainment industry employers working with children 16 and below.

Thus, the federal meal and rest breaks rules applies.

California

Employers must get paid 10-minute rest periods that occur in the middle of the shifts for every four hours of work. When an employee works for more than 5 hours per day, they get 30-minute breaks.

California state law further demands that employers provide second meal periods of at least 30 minutes to workers who work shifts of more than 10 hours per day.

Colorado

Colorado state law stipulates the following:

  • For every 4-hour work period, employees must get a 10-minute paid break and rest period.
  • Employees who work more than five consecutive hours get a 30-minute meal break. 

It is vital to note that these laws only apply to retail employees, commercial support services, food and beverage, and health and medical industries. Employees who do not work directly in formal employment settings are also exempt.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, workers cannot get both meal and rest breaks. 

These laws apply to workers who work at least seven and a half consecutive hours (they are entitled to 30-minute breaks, that come after the first two and before the last two hours of work).

employees-on-a-meal-break

Delaware

According to Delaware state law, all employees must be issued an unpaid meal break if the shift lasts at least seven hours and thirty minutes. In addition, these breaks must come after the first two hours and before the final two hours of each shift.

District of Columbia

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in D.C.

Florida

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Florida.

Georgia

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Georgia.

Hawaii

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Hawaii.

Idaho

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Idaho.

Illinois

Illinois state law requires a minimum 20-minute break for shifts lasting for more than seven and a half continuous hours. Hospitality industry employees get a 30-minute meal break if they work for more than seven hours.

Hotel room attendants also get 15-minute rest breaks for seven hours of work.

Indiana

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Indiana.

Iowa

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Iowa.

Kansas

Although breaks are not mandatory in Kansas, those that are less than 30 minutes must be paid.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, employers are not mandated to provide meal and rest breaks. However, employees not listed under the FRLA get paid 10-minute rest periods for every four hours of continuous work.

Louisiana

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in Louisiana.

Maine

An unpaid meal break like a lunch break is mandatory for any employee who works for more than six consecutive hours unless they work for companies where three or fewer employees operate simultaneously.

Maryland

Rest breaks are not mandatory.

However, 15-minute breaks can be given for work that takes 4-6 consecutive hours or 30-minute breaks for work that takes more than 6 consecutive hours.

Eight or more hours of work require 30-minute breaks.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, paid or unpaid rest breaks are also not mandatory.

However, more than six hours of work requires a 30 minutes break unless the worker is employed in an ironwork, paper mill, glass works, letterpress, bleaching, print works, or dyeing works company.

Michigan

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Michigan.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, employers must provide both meal and rest breaks. Adequate meal periods are required for every four consecutive work hours. If these rest periods are less than 20 minutes, they cannot be deducted from the total working years.

When it comes to a meal break, employers must provide employees who work for more than eight consecutive hours sufficient unpaid time to have their meals.

Mississippi

There are no applicable meal or rest break laws in Mississippi.

Missouri

There are no applicable meal or rest break laws in Missouri.

Montana

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Montana.

Nebraska

Although Nebraska state law does not demand that employees get meal breaks, assembly plants, mechanical establishments, or workshop workers must get a 30 minutes meal break for each 8-hour shift as the first meal period and the same for the second meal period.

Nevada

Employees must get a paid rest break of 10 minutes for every four hours of work and a 30-minute meal break for every eight consecutive hours of work as a second meal period.

New Hampshire

Although New Hampshire state law does not demand that employees get rest breaks, workers who work for more than five consecutive hours must get a 30-minute meal break.

New Jersey

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in New Jersey.

New Mexico

There are no applicable meal and rest break laws in New Mexico.

New York

In New York, rest breaks are not mandatory.

However, they must provide meal breaks that are broken down as follows:

  • Factory employees get one-hour breaks that fall between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. One-hour breaks are given to factory workers who work for six or more hours for work that begins between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Mercantile workers as well as those protected under New York's labour laws get 30-minute breaks that fall between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 45-minute breaks are given to mercantile workers who work for six or more hours for work that begin between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m.

providing-sufficient-breaks

North Carolina

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in North Carolina.

North Dakota

Consistent with North Dakota state law, employees are not guaranteed rest breaks. However, the law covers meal breaks—30 minutes for every work shift above five hours. 

There are additional points to note.

First, the lunch break is only payable if the employee has the meal while working. 

Second, employers are only mandated to provide meal breaks when two or more workers are on duty and to schedule rest breaks at a reasonable unpaid break time.

Ohio

There are no applicable meal and rest break laws in Ohio.

Oklahoma

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in Oklahoma.

Oregon

According to Oregon state law, every employee is entitled to a 10-minute paid rest break for every four hours of work done within a single work period. Each paid rest break must come in the middle of each work shift or at a reasonable break time.

Non-exempt employees are also entitled to at least 30-minute unpaid meal periods for every six to eight hours of work. These breaks should also be uninterrupted, and all employee duties should be stripped during this rest period.

However, the law does not demand rest and meal breaks for shifts that are less than six hours.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state law does not cover rest and meal breaks for employees.

However, for seasonal farm workers, there is a written agreement that they must be provided unpaid 30-minute rest breaks for every five hours of work, where they are relieved of all duties and can eat meals.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, adult employees are entitled to 20-minute meal breaks for six-hour shifts and a 30-minute meal break period for eight-hour shifts at reasonable break time.

Note: Rhode Island meal break regulations do not mandate employers to pay for a lunch break. In addition, these laws only apply to employers running a workforce of fewer than five employees.

South Carolina

There are no paid or unpaid breaks in South Carolina.

South Dakota

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in South Dakota.

Tennessee

Tennessee law provides reasonable break time that requires employers to offer 30-minute meal breaks (not rest breaks) for every six consecutive hours of work. However, these breaks cannot be issued within the first hour of a shift.

Texas

There are no applicable meal and rest break laws in Texas.

Utah

There are no applicable rest and meal break laws in Utah.

Vermont

Vermont state law is a bit vague when it comes to meal and rest break compliance laws. Although employers must give their employees "reasonable opportunities" to eat and use the washrooms during working hours, the law is unclear regarding break length, break times vis-à-vis the length of the shifts, and the number of breaks per shift.

In such an instance, it is always advisable to refer to federal law regulations.

Virginia

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Virginia.

Washington

Washington state law requires rest and lunch breaks as follows:

·       Paid 10-minute rest periods for 4-hour shifts.

·       30-minute meal breaks for shifts that last than five consecutive hours.

West Virginia

West Virginia law demands that employers offer 20-minute meal breaks (not rest breaks) for every six consecutive hours of work. These breaks must be compensated if employees have their meals while working.

Wisconsin

According to Wisconsin state law, a 30-minute meal break is recommended. The state further advises that these meal breaks be issued during normal mealtime hours or towards the middle of the shift. A further recommendation is that no employee should work longer than six hours without a break.

However, it is vital to note that these are mere recommendations and are not enforceable under the law.

Wyoming

There are no applicable meal and rest breaks laws in Wyoming.

Talk to Shiftbase About Meal Breaks and Rest Breaks By State

As we have shown, each state has its own set of rest and meal break laws. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand all the break laws per state, and it is important to get help with this.

At Shiftbase, we provide employee scheduling and time registration software to ensure that your business has happy staff and that you successfully manage your employees.

Start your free account today to find out how you can take meal and rest breaks into account with Shiftbase.

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