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Meal Periods and Rest Breaks

The FLSA does not require an employer to provide meal periods or rest breaks for their employees. Many employers, however, do provide breaks and/or meal periods. Breaks of short duration, from 5 to 20 minutes, are common. As a general rule, rest breaks are considered hours worked and bona fide meal breaks are not considered hours worked.

Some states do have laws requiring rest breaks and/or meal periods. Such state requirements will prevail over the silence of the FLSA on this subject. In those situations where the employee is subject to both the FLSA and state labor laws, the employee is entitled to the most beneficial provisions of each law.

For example, a private sector employee employed in a particular state is entitled, by state law, to a paid 10-minute rest break for each 4- hour work period. The employee working in that state is entitled to the rest break, even though the FLSA does not require rest breaks.

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