While the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to employees over the age of 18, state laws may differ significantly from federal law. Under the FLSA, if an employer provides employees with short rest breaks (usually 20 minutes or less), it must pay employees for this time. However, federal law does not require employers to pay employees for meal breaks of 30 minutes or longer, as long as the employee is completely relieved of all work duties.

Many state laws require employers to provide employees with rest and meal breaks, but these laws can vary significantly in many aspects, including whether these breaks must be paid, which employees are entitled to breaks, when the breaks must be provided, and the penalties for failing to provide breaks, among others. The variations in these state laws can make compliance complicated for employers with multistate locations. FordHarrison attorneys have prepared a survey of state laws governing meal and rest breaks to help employers with their wage and hour compliance efforts.