Do Virginia employers have to give us work breaks?

Some states require employers to give rest breaks, but Virginia isn't one of them.

Question

I work at a clothing store in Virginia, and my employer doesn't give us breaks for lunch or rest. Doesn't an employer have to give paid breaks during the workday? And aren't we legally entitled to some time off for lunch?

Answer

State law determines whether employees are legally entitled to meal breaks and/or rest breaks during the work day. In Virginia, employers don't have to provide a meal break, rest break, or any other time off during a shift for employees.  

A number of states require employers to give employees unpaid time to eat a meal, if their shift last more than five or six hours. And, a handful of states mandate paid rest breaks. Typically, in states that impose this requirement, an employer must provide a paid ten-minute break every four hours or so. However, Virginia hasn't adopted either legal requirement. Virginia employers are free to do as yours apparently does, and keep their employees working, without breaks, for their entire shift.  

There is one break requirement imposed by federal law: If your employer lets you take brief breaks (of less than 20 minutes) throughout the work day, you must be paid for this time. So, if your employer lets employees duck into the back room for five or ten minutes to grab a bite, it cannot dock you for that time. Other than that rule, however, federal law doesn't have anything to say about lunch breaks or rest breaks.  

To learn more about breaks, see Meal and Rest Breaks: Your Rights as an Employee. For information on other wage laws in Virginia, see our Virginia Wage and Hour Law page.  

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