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Appropriate Lunch Breaks

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2020 | Firm News |

It is no secret that the highlight of many employees’ workday is their lunch break. Lunch breaks and other breaks may be a requirement under Florida and federal law, depending on what is written in their employment contracts, the age of the employee, and the number of consecutive hours they work. Failing to give an employee their legally mandated break can lead to investigation and fines by state or federal agencies, as well as employment lawsuits. For example, an employer who refused to give their employee lunch break during a hot day could be sued for negligence if that employee ended up passing out and getting injured from exhaustion. Whether you have questions about work breaks or an employee has filed an employment claim against you, an experienced Port St. Lucie employment litigator can help.

Lunch Breaks for Minors Under Florida Law

Minors are the only type of employee that must be given meal breaks. Under Florida statute 450.081, employers are required by law to grant employees under the age of 18 a 30 minute break for every four hours of consecutive work. Furthermore, a “consecutive” four hour period cannot be separated by any less than 30 minutes. This means that if your 16-year-old employee works for three hours from 12:00 to 3:00, then starts a “second shift” from 3:15 to 6:15, you are in violation of the law, as the 15 minute separation period between the two shifts is less than the required 30 minutes.

There is No Federal Law Requiring Employers to Provide Lunch or Rest Breaks

According to the Department of Labor, the federal government does not require employers to provide lunch breaks to employees. That means that, upon hiring, you can exclude any breaks from your employee’s workday, even if they are working and being paid for overtime.

However, if it is written in the employee handbook or employment contract that employees get a period of time for lunch or to rest, the employer must uphold this agreement. Moreover, if an employer allows their employees to take a rest break of five to 20 minutes, under federal law they must keep their employees on the clock and pay them for these short breaks. However, breaks that are 30 minutes or longer, during which the employees are able to do as they please and leave the jobsite, do not have to be paid work time.

A West Palm Beach Employment Attorney is Here to Help

As stated above, there are no federal or state requirements to give adult employees rest breaks or lunch breaks. However, as most employers do provide these breaks during full or even partial work days, such contracts must be upheld by the employer, otherwise they risk being sued by an employee. For more information on this topic, or to discuss a pending employment claim that has been filed against you, call the West Palm Beach labor & employment attorneys at Pincus & Currier, LLP today at 561-868-1340 to schedule a meeting.