The Department of Labor (DOL) is reminding employers that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) they are required to compensate employees for “short breaks (usually lasting 5 to 20 minutes)”. The DOL further explains that these breaks should be “considered in determining if overtime was worked”. It should also be noted that some states, including California, Oregon, and Washington, have additional requirements regarding meal and rest breaks for employees.
The DOL states on its website that:
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 as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to 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.
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