Wages and Hours Worked:
Work Hours and Other Pay Issues
Breaks and Meal Periods
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employees be given meal or rest breaks. However, if employers do offer short breaks (lasting about five to 20 minutes), federal law considers these short breaks time for which employees must be compensated. Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes), serve a different purpose than short rest or snack breaks and, thus, are generally not time for which employees must be compensated. The FLSA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration.
- Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act - Answers many questions about the FLSA, including what the Act does and does not require.
- Questions and Answers About the FLSA
- Hours Worked Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Provides general information about what activities do and do not constitute compensable time under the FLSA, including rest and meal periods.
- elaws FLSA Hours Worked Advisor: Meal Perios and Rest Breaks - Provides information that addresses key wage and hour topics, including detailed explanations of what activities do and do not constitute time for which employees must be compensated, including meal periods and rest breaks.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for private sector and government workers.
- 29 CFR 785.18 - Regulations on rest periods that distinguish between rest periods of five to 20 minutes and waiting time or on-call time, all of which are paid work time.
- 29 CFR 785.19 - Regulations on meal periods that define bona fide meal periods for which employees need not be compensated.
- Chapter 31 - Wage and Hour Division's Field Operations Handbook - Describes hours worked under the FLSA.
- State Labor Offices - When the state laws differ from the federal FLSA, an employer must comply with the standard most protective to employees.
- Wage and Hour Division
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243)
- For questions on other DOL laws,
please call DOL's Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service.
Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)
*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.