FLSA: 3 Things You Need To Know About Break Times


Photo Credit: Tom Blackwell

There are many different rules out there when it comes to employees taking breaks throughout the workday. According to an article written in HR Magazine by Jonathan A. Segal, there are different rules for the different kinds of breaks employees take. Being well versed in these rules will close any gaps left open for litigation. In this blog, get a quick refresher on rules for breaks.

If you haven’t studied up on the Fair Labor Standards Act in the past year, you’re likely due for a refresher. When it comes to breaks, the law can get complicated when trying to comply with both state and federal laws. However, in a nutshell, here is what you need to know:

The FLSA doesn’t require that employers give their employees breaks. Instead, what you need to know about the law is when you should be paying your employees during their breaks.

 Short Breaks – Federal law states that employees should be paid during breaks that are 20 minutes or less. Short breaks like this are common and actually promote efficiency. You can increase morale and productivity while offering short breaks for a quick recharge.

Meal Breaks – Whether or not an employer should pay for meal breaks gets a little dicey. The Department of Labor says that meals lasting under 30 minutes should be paid. However, where employers may find themselves in trouble during litigation is whether or not they allowed employees to work during their lunch breaks. It’s every employer’s dream to have earnest, motivated employees that care about their accounts. However, if they do work during an unpaid lunch break, employees could later claim they weren’t being paid when they should have if they can prove their lunch breaks were less than 30 minutes.

Smoke Breaks – FLSA doesn’t state that employers must pay employees for their smoke breaks, regardless of them being addicted to cigarettes. This is justifiable in that the law also doesn’t enforce breaks for those dependent on alcohol or other substances.

Serenity Staffing offers expertise in key HR roles to help you if you need assistance determining whether your company is compliant with policies, such as break times, and if and when they should be paid. If you are seeking such a resource to make sure your company is in compliance with the FLSA, contact Serenity Staffing today. Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn to get our weekly blog updates!