As an employee, you should understand that your employer is not required by law to pay for your rest periods. Federal law does not require an employee to be provided with breaks or rest. However, as an employer, you may decide to offer payment for breaks to your staff at your discretion. Moreover, you should always remember that the law prohibits employee discrimination. This means that any offer given should be consistent among employees.
Lunch or other meal periods are considered as part of the normal working time by federal laws and therefore, as an employee you are not entitled to be paid for breaks. But, some states have laws that provide employee breaks.
The laws regarding employee breaks in these states vary based on things like employee age, classification of workers, and location. As you can see, the U.S. department of labor maintains a comprehensive list of the states with laws which require companies to give employees breaks.
It should be noted that many companies voluntarily provide their employees with breaks for boosting morale and productivity.
The Number of Breaks in a Working Day
As I had indicated earlier, federal regulations do not provide for a particular number of employee breaks per hours worked. For some states, there are laws determining the number of breaks an employee is entitled to during his or her shift.
For example, the laws of Minnesota states that an employee must be provided with time for going to the restroom after every 4 hours of consecutive work. For California, its laws provide employees with a rest period lasting 10 minutes after every 4 working hours. As per Vermont laws, they avoid specifying the length of the break and instead stipulate that employees must be provided with reasonable opportunities during working hours for eating and using toilet facilities.
Other states requiring paid rest breaks include Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, and Nevada.
If you are entitled to a break according to your state laws or if paid lunch breaks are required, then your employer must pay you. If your employer does not allow you to take breaks or you are forced to work even during lunch without compensation, then you can contact your state labor department to submit a claim against your employer.
Nursing mothers are also entitled to breaks according to the Affordable Care Act. Employers are required to provide their employees who are nursing mothers with reasonable break time for nursing their children for one year after birth.
In conclusion, federal laws do not provide for employees meal and rest breaks and thus does not also offer paid 15 minutes break. However, many U.S. states provide for mandatory employee breaks which may differ in terms of the duration. You can check these particular states through your particular state department of labor. It must also be stressed; the fact that there are many employers giving employees breaks anyway even without a requirement by federal and state laws. This is done by companies for attracting top talent, boosting morale, and increasing productivity. Employee breaks are important for going to restrooms, talking with friends, reading, smoking, handling personal business, etc.