Meals & Rest Breaks

Experienced Labor Law Attorney Serving The Orlando Area

There is no federal law requiring an employer to provide a lunch break, bathroom breaks or any rest period to their employees. A handful of states do specify the right to periodic meal and rest breaks, and the majority of public and private employers voluntarily provide such breaks to their workers.

What can get employers in trouble is trying to have it both ways. If your employer provides an unpaid meal break, you cannot be required to perform work or be “on call.” If you are on duty or on standby during your lunchtime, you may have a claim against that employer for unpaid wages.

The Orlando employment law attorneys of Wilson McCoy, P.A., can determine if your employer has violated the law and if you are entitled to back pay and penalties for violations. Contact us today to discuss your specific situation.

We represent private sector employees and public employees. However, the rules regarding employee breaks are generally governed by state law:

Rest breaks: Although most employers voluntarily provide periodic work breaks/restroom breaks, only seven states mandate such breaks. Florida is not among them, except in the case of minors. The most typical rule is a 10-minute break for every four hours of work.

Meal breaks: The typical lunch break is 30 minutes, during which you must be fully relieved of duty. If you are required to eat at your desk, answer the phones, operate machinery, or otherwise perform any work or be available for work, then the employer must pay your regular wage for the entire break period.

Smoking breaks: Employers are not obligated to provide smoke breaks, shelters, ashtrays or any accommodation for smokers. Furthermore, employers are within their rights to ban smoking entirely on their premises, including a worker’s unpaid breaks.

Rest break exceptions: Under federal law, pregnant women and workers with certain health conditions cannot be denied restroom breaks, even if they must use the bathroom frequently.

Religious considerations: Under federal law, employers must make reasonable accommodations of religious practices, such as breaks for obligated prayers that fall during work hours.

If your paycheck has been docked, if you are regularly forced to work through lunch, or if you believe your employer has violated your wage and hour rights, we can assess and pursue your legal claims. Contact us today to discuss your claim.