New York Employee Meal and Rest Breaks: A Primer
The average workday is approximately eight hours. In physically demanding jobs, these hours can be particularly grueling. Many New York employees may wonder what sort of rights they have when it comes to taking breaks. It may surprise many of them to learn that federal law does not offer these employees a legal right to rest during the workday. New York law, fortunately, does extend protection to employees.
Under federal law, employers must pay for all time that an employer is on the clock. This can include time that a worker takes short rest breaks. For instance, if an employee is working an eight-hour day and takes an employer-sanctioned 20-minute break, that worker must be compensated for all of that time, including the break. However, employers are not actually required to extend the right to such breaks.
Additionally, under federal law, employers are not required to pay for time employees take for bona fide meal breaks. To be considered a bona fide meal break, it must last for at least 30 minutes and the employee must be relieved all work duties at the time. Again, however, employers do not have to actually allow for such breaks under federal law.
New York law grants employees greater protections when it comes to taking breaks. Under state law, employees must be given a meal break depending on the length of the shift and the type of industry. For instance, factory workers have the right to a one-hour break if the are working between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If an employee works more than six hours between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m., the employee has the right to take a meal break of between 45 minutes and one hour, depending upon the industry. Additionally, certain employees have the right to 20-minute breaks.
If you feel you have the right to a break and your employer has been denying this right, you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit. Contact the skilled employment law attorneys at Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC in New York.