Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Unauthorized
extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when
the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that
the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any
extension of the break is contrary to the employer's rules, and any extension
of the break will be punished.
Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes),
serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and, thus, are not work
time and are not compensable.
DOL Web Pages on This
Hours Worked Under
the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Provides general information about
what constitutes compensable time under the FLSA.
Employment Standards Administration
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers questions about breaks.
What Does the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) NOT Require?
The FLSA does not require
meal or break periods.
Regulations on Rest
Makes the distinction between rest periods of 5 to 20 minutes
and compensable waiting time or on-call time, all of which are paid work
Regulations on Meal
Meal periods are not compensable work time.
Information About the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
An overview of
many aspects of the FLSA, ranging from child labor to enforcement.
Handy Reference Guide
to the Fair Labor Standards Act
Answers many questions about the FLSA
and gives information about certain occupations that are exempt from the
Coverage Under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Fact Sheet
General information about
who is covered by the FLSA.
Wage & Hour
Division: District Office Locations
Addresses and phone numbers for
Department of Labor district Wage & Hour Division offices.
Links to state departments of labor contacts, and
information on state minimum wage rates and other state child labor topics.
Related Web Pages on This Topic
and Local Government Information Provided by the Library of Congress
Links to various sources of state and local government information.
Laws & Regulations on This
Regulations on rest and
meal periods make a distinction between rest periods (usually lasting 5 to
20 minutes) and compensable waiting time or on-call time, all of which are paid
work time and meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes that are not
compensable work time.