Home » Employment Law » Pay and Time Off » Lunch Break Policies – Lunch Break Law

This is likely one of the most popular topics searched for by workers, and the unfortunate news for you is that, contrary to what you might believe: Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks.

However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks work-time that must be paid. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks, however, need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly told the employee that the authorized break 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.

Meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes), serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and, thus, are not work time and are not compensable; i.e. you don’t have to be paid for them.

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