Florida Employment Laws on Meal and Rest Breaks
Meal and rest breaks offer a welcome respite to take a step away from your work duties, but there is a lot of confusion over employer obligations and employee rights on the topic. The primary law that dictates wages and hours is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law that applies to all Florida employers. The statute sets requirements for minimum wage, overtime, and wages for tipped workers, though states are allowed to establish higher amounts that companies must pay.
Though many of these points probably sound familiar, the laws regarding meal and rest breaks are not as well understood. For one, the laws vary from state to state, so the family or friends you know in other places may be subject to different rules. A Palm Beach Gardens wage and hour attorney can explain how Florida law applies to breaks, and some background is useful.
FLSA Regulations on Breaks: Though the statute is strict on employer obligations to pay minimum wage and overtime, FLSA does not refer to meal and rest breaks. A company is not required to provide them, and there are no rules on paid versus unpaid time for breaks. There are exceptions for minors, nursing mothers, and those workers with disabilities.
However, in practice, most employers do offer meal and rest breaks. Companies recognize that employees are more efficient and productive when they have time during the workday to relax and refresh.
Florida Law on Employee Breaks: The state follows the federal FLSA in not requiring employers to provide meal or rest breaks for workers. A company in Florida may opt to offer breaks and may choose to pay employees, but doing so is voluntary.
One point to note is that a short break, typically 15 to 20 minutes or less, is an exception. Employers are required to pay workers for taking a rest for a bathroom break or drink of water. These breaks are considered part of the work day, so the company must pay for these few minutes.
Employee Rights for Violations: Because of the employment laws in Florida on meal and rest breaks, you likely do not have a claim if your employer does not offer them. However, the most common violations of FLSA in this area occur when companies require an employee to perform work-related tasks when on break. In such a situation, you may qualify to file a wage and hour claim to seek damages for:
- Back pay and front pay;
- Interest on unpaid wages;
- Court costs and attorneys’ fees; and,
- Other compensation.
Talk to a Florida Wage and Hour Lawyer About Your Rights
Meal and rest breaks may not seem like a big deal to your employer, which is why it is essential to take action if your rights are violated. For more information about your options, please contact Sconzo Law Office. Individuals in Palm Beach County can call 561-279-6114 or visit us online to schedule a free case assessment. After reviewing your circumstances, an employment law attorney can advise you on your remedies.