Employment law

breaks and meal periods

State laws (statutes and regulations) generally govern the number and length of breaks and meal periods employers must provide employees—usually based on the number of consecutive hours the employee has worked that day. These laws vary from state to state and many states have separate provisions requiring meal periods specifically for minors (when minors are covered by two provisions, employer must observe the higher standard).

Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks for employees, but if employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes) federal law considers the breaks compensable work hours that must be included in the number of hours worked when calculating overtime pay. 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 that any extension of the break will be punished. Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes) serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks, are not work time, and are not compensable.

State Statutes for the State of Texas

Federal Statutes