DOL Has Definite Thoughts About Breaks by Employees

DOL Has Definite Thoughts About Breaks by Employees

The U.S. Dept. of Labor considers any break lasting less than 20 minutes to be for the benefit of the employer.   Accordingly, those breaks must be paid.

However, unauthorized extensions of authorized breaks do not need to be counted as hours worked if the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to employees that authorized breaks may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules and any extension of the break will be punished.

An employer’s recourse when employees take unauthorized breaks under 20 minutes is discipline and not a reduction of pay.   Employees who take longer breaks than authorized can have their pay reduced for the extra time, but discipline is still a good idea to prevent it from becoming a habit that ultimately cuts into productivity.

Though Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks, state regulations concerning “breaks” can vary.  In Texas, there are no regulations or required breaks for employees.

Federal Resource:

  • 29 CFR 785.18 addresses Rest Periods
  • 29 CFR 785.19 addresses Meal Periods

Texas Resource:

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