State Laws on Meal and Rest Breaks

Find out whether your state requires employers to provide breaks during the work day.

By , J.D. UC Berkeley School of Law

Contrary to the laws of gastronomy, federal law does not require that you be allotted or paid for breaks to eat meals.

However, many states have laws specifically requiring that employees be allowed a half hour or so in meal and rest breaks during each workday and a number of states also have rules requiring that mothers be given work time to breastfeed or express milk for their infants. (See the chart below.) Your employer generally does not have to pay you for meal breaks of 30 minutes or more—as long as you are completely relieved of work duties during that time. Technically, however, if your employer either requires that you work while eating—or allows you to do so—you must be paid for time spent during meals. Also, you must be paid for break periods that are less than 20 minutes.

Choose your state from the list below to find out whether you are entitled to meal breaks, rest breaks, or both.

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