Unfortunately, employers cheat workers out of wages and overtime every day in many ways using a variety of methods.
Providing employees with meal and rest periods in the course of their workdays is common across industries. We want workers to be at their best on the job, and these kinds of short breaks promote efficiency and productivity.
Rest periods of 20 minutes or less each day are generally considered “hours worked” for which employees should be compensated. For bona fide meal periods, the rules are a bit different:
- If employers opt not to pay non‑exempt employees for meal breaks, those workers must be given an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes
- During unpaid meal breaks, employees must be completely relieved from performing job duties and tasks during that time
Many states have enacted rules and laws regarding meal and rest breaks, and although the Fair Labor Standards Act does not, the Act does require employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide a reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk.
Employers violate federal and state meal break laws when they force employees to work through or interrupt their breaks, and non-exempt workers in retail, call center, service, and health care positions are especially susceptible to this type of wage abuse.