Do I Get A Meal Break On The Job In New York?
The majority of workers in New York work anywhere between 7-9 hours, which means that there will almost certainly be a point in the middle where they expect to take a moment to eat. While federal law does not specifically require meal breaks or rest breaks, New York state law does – but in many other respects, it mirrors federal regulations, for good or ill.
Federal vs State Law
Federal wage and hour issues like meal breaks are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law does not require employers to give meal breaks, but if one is granted, it is not generally compensable – it must be a rest break, with no requirement for work involved. If an employer makes their workers attend any kind of presentation or other work-related activity during their lunch break, that break must be counted as work and compensated accordingly.
New York state law, by comparison, requires all employers to provide at least 30 minutes of unpaid break time for every employee who works 6 hours or more in a day. There are slight variations allowed for factory workers, but in general, 30 minutes is the minimum required meal break. The one exception to this is when only one employee is on duty, and for such a situation to happen, the employee must have been advised of its possibility before it happened and consented to eat and work at the same time.
Short Breaks May Also Be Available
In addition to the required meal break, New York law also states that for those who work “long shifts,” an additional 20-minute break between 5pm and 7pm is required under the relevant law. A ‘long shift’ is any that starts before 11am and ends at 7pm or after. This is to the benefit of workers like law enforcement personnel, doctors and nurses, and firefighters, but in theory, anyone who is required to work a shift that fits the time criteria can take advantage of this extra requirement.
These regulations are almost the inverse of those governing rest breaks. While meal breaks must be times of rest, and if they are not, then the employee must be paid for them, rest breaks are counted as compensable working time under New York law. Rest breaks are usually quite short and the rationale for counting them as work time is generally that the employee is not out of the employer’s control for long enough to necessitate stopping compensation.
Contact A New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
It may come as a shock that lunch breaks are not guaranteed under federal law, but if you work in New York, that right is preserved. If you have any questions or concerns about breaks, or you suspect you are not getting what you deserve, calling a New York City employment discrimination attorney from Mansell Law, LLC can help to clarify your options. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.