Taking a break to grab a bite and rest your eyes for a bit can definitely help you decompress from work. You might think that all employers provide their employees with ample break time but actually, some states like Florida do not mandate employers to provide meal or rest breaks to their workers.
Some special considerations
While Florida does not require employers to give their employees breaks, there are a few exceptions. Under the state’s labor laws, workers 17 years old and below must have a 30-minute lunch break after four hours from the start of their shift. If they work an 8-hour shift, the law also entitles them to two 15-minute breaks.
Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects nursing mothers and employees with certain medical conditions by requiring employers to apply reasonable considerations to accommodate their situations, such as providing short breaks to express milk and rest.
Employers must follow their company break policies
It is customary for employers to give breaks to their employees under company policies, despite breaks not being a requirement. Once an employer allows work breaks, they must comply with federal laws. Some rules to take note of include the following:
- Less than 20-minute breaks: If the employer offers short breaks of less than 20 minutes, they must pay their employee because breaks that last for short periods are part of the regular workday.
- 30-minute breaks: Breaks that are 30 minutes or longer are bona fide breaks and are not compensable. However, if an employee works during this break, even if they are working through a meal, the employer must pay them for their time worked.
Employers who violate federal laws on breaks can face penalty fines and possible lawsuits. This is why it is important for employers and employees to be familiar with their contracts and company policies to avoid any confusion about break time.