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Breaks

Breaks from 5 to 20 minutes must be counted as hours worked.

Even though they are not required by the FLSA, if you permit your employees to take breaks, they must be counted as hours worked. This includes short periods the employees are allowed to spend away from the work site for any reason.

For example:

  • smoke breaks,
  • restroom breaks,
  • personal telephone calls or visits, or
  • to get coffee or soft drinks, etc.

Note, however, that you need not count unauthorized extensions of authorized breaks as hours worked when you have expressly and unambiguously advised the employee that the break may only last for a specific length of time and that any extension of the break is contrary to your rules and will be punished.

To determine whether a break of more than 20 minutes is hours worked, or for more information on breaks in general, please contact your local Wage and Hour District Office. You may also wish to contact your state department of labor for information concerning state laws.

To review the regulations concerning breaks, click on the underlined text.