Meal & Rest Breaks

As many workers in New York know, meal and rest breaks help you make it through the day. While federal law does not require workers to be provided with regular breaks, employers that allow short rest breaks must compensate employees for that time. On the other hand, state law requires employers to offer meal breaks, depending on the circumstances, but not rest breaks. In any event, meal and rest break laws are confusing and many employees are not aware of their rights.

Lipsky Lowe, LLP, is dedicated to helping employees obtain the compensation they deserve for meal and rest breaks. We have a proven history of holding employers accountable for wage and hour violations, whether through administrative proceedings, litigation, or alternative dispute resolution. If you have been denied a meal break or have been working through all, or a portion of, your breaks without pay, you need the powerful representation we are prepared to provide. When you work with us, we will take the time to understand your circumstances, explain your rights, and consider every legal option.

Federal Meal and Rest Break Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to employees. If employers do provide rest or meal breaks, however, then certain FLSA rules apply. First, rest breaks that last 20 minutes or less, must be compensated; that time must also be included in the total hours worked for purposes of determining overtime.

Additionally, meal breaks that last 30 minutes or more are not required to be paid as long as the employee is relieved of all work duties. If an employee works through a meal break, however, that time must be paid, regardless of whether the employer refers to this time as a lunch break. Examples include:

  • A receptionist who must cover the phones or wait for deliveries during lunch
  • A paralegal who eats lunch at his desk while working
  • A repair person who grabs a quick bite while driving from job-to-job

In any event, these rules only come into play if an employer chooses to provide breaks, which the FLSA does not require.

New York Meal And Rest Break Laws

Generally, New York law requires employers to provide a meal break, but not rest breaks, differentiates between factory and non-factory workers, and also considers the length of the shift. In particular, factory workers are allowed a one hour break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., while all other employees who work 6 hours or longer are entitled to a 30-minute break during the 11-2 time window.

In addition, an employee whose shift starts before 11 a.m. and ends after 7 p.m. is entitled to an addition 20-minute rest break between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Finally, an employee who works for more than 6 hours between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. must be allowed a 45-minute meal break in the middle of the shift. New York also has rules covering breaks for home health care aides, breastfeeding breaks, and day of rest breaks:

  • Home Health Care AttendantsHome health care aides who work at a residence in a 24-hour shift do not reside there must only be paid for 13 hours, provided they have 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep and are allowed 3 breaks lasting one hour.
  • Breastfeeding Breaks — Employers must provide reasonable break time for women to pump breast milk, who can either use time from their paid breaks or take an unpaid break. Employers are required to give employees at least 20 minutes for each break and must give nursing mothers a break once every three hours.
  • Day of Rest — Factory, retail, hospitality, and other employees must be given a day of rest of at least 24 hours each calendar week.

Despite the foregoing requirements, employees often work through their meal or rest breaks without pay. Nonetheless, employers are required to pay employees for their work, and can only deduct pay for time actually spent on a break.

Call Our NYC Wage & Hour Lawyers

At the end of the day, meal and rest breaks are not only good for employees but good for business as well. Tired, hungry workers are usually not productive and denying breaks to employees can be dangerous, since fatigued workers are at a higher risk of being injured in accidents. Nonetheless, meal and rest break violations are far too common.

At Lipsky Lowe, we have a proven history of successfully pursuing wage and hour claims inside and outside of the courtroom. Whether through litigation or negotiation, we leverage our skills and experience to help our clients obtain the compensation they have earned. If you have been denied a meal or rest break or have not been compensated for unused break time, you may have a viable wage and hour claim.

Although employers have an unfair advantage over employees, we know how to level the playing field and fight back. When you work with our meal and rest break attorneys, we will be the strength in your corner. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your claim.

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