Does your Nevada employer give you meal breaks or rest breaks? You might be surprised to learn that federal law doesn’t give employees the right to time off to eat lunch (or another meal) or the right to take short breaks during the work day. Although employees must be paid for shorter breaks they are allowed to take during the day, employers are not required to provide these breaks in the first place. Plenty of employers provide these breaks as a matter of custom and policy, perhaps recognizing that an employee who is hungry and tired is neither productive nor pleasant to customers and coworkers. Sensible as this seems, employers are not legally required to allow breaks, at least by federal law.
State law is a different story, however. A number of states require employers to provide meal breaks or rest breaks. Nevada is one of the few states that require both.
Federal Law: Paid versus Unpaid Breaks
Federal law requires employers to pay for hours worked, including certain time that an employer may designate as “breaks.” For example, if an employee has to work through a meal, that time must be paid. A receptionist who must cover the phones or wait for deliveries during lunch must be paid for that time, as must a paralegal who eats lunch at her desk while working or a repair person who grabs a quick bite while driving from one job to the next. Even if an employer refers to this time as a lunch break, the employee is still working and entitled to be paid.
Federal law also requires employers to pay for short breaks an employee is allowed to take during the day. Breaks lasting from five to 20 minutes are considered part of the workday, for which employees must be paid.
However, these rules come into play only if an employer allows breaks. Federal law requires only that an employer pay for certain time, even if it is designated as a break. It does not require employers to offer break time in the first place.
Nevada Requires Meal and Rest Breaks
A number of states follow the federal law: They don’t require meal or rest breaks, but they require employers to pay for any short breaks allowed (and to pay for all time an employee spends working, whether or not the employee is eating at the same time).
Some states require either meal or rest breaks. Nevada is one of the handful of states that require employers to provide both types of breaks.
Nevada law requires employers to give employees a 30-minute meal break if they will work for eight or more continuous hours. Employers with two or more employees are covered by the law.
The state labor commissioner may grant an employer an exemption (meaning the employer doesn’t have to provide these breaks) if the employer can prove that business necessity prevents it from giving meal breaks.
Nevada employers must give employees a paid ten-minute rest break for every four hours or major fraction thereof the employee works. If practicable, these breaks must be provided in the middle of the work period. Breaks are not required if the employee’s total work time for the day is less than three and a half hours.
Only employers with at least two employees are covered by the law. As is true for meal breaks, an employer can get an exemption from the rest break requirement from the state labor commissioner if it can show that business necessity prevents it from providing rest breaks.