Can my Florida employer make me work through lunch?

Florida law doesn't require meal or rest breaks, but a working lunch must be paid.

Question

I'm an administrative assistant at a Florida law firm. We get an unpaid half hour for lunch. However, once a week, each of us has to spend our lunch break at the front desk, covering the phones while the receptionist takes her lunch break. Is this legal?  

Answer

Florida doesn't require employers to pay employees for meal breaks or rest breaks, or even to provide such breaks in the first place. Although a number of states require certain breaks during the work day, Florida isn't one of them. It's perfectly legal for your employer not to pay you for your lunch break.  

What is not legal, however, is for your employer to require you to work without pay. Essentially, that's what is happening to you and your coworkers. Your Florida employer is entitled to give you unpaid time to eat your lunch. Your employer could also choose not to give a meal break at all, but instead to require employees to work through lunch. But your employer may not avoid paying for your time, simply because you are eating lunch while you work. If you are required to do any work during what would otherwise be your break, your time must be paid.  

It's always interesting when the lawyers don't know the law! Hopefully, however, your employer will be open to some education on the topic. Get as many of your coworkers as are willing to join you, and explain to your manager that you must be paid for your working lunches. If that doesn't work, consider going to the state Department of Economic Opportunity; you can find information at our Florida Wage and Hour Law page.  

 

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP ?

Talk to an Employment Rights attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you