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Georgia Break Laws

Are employers required to give breaks at work in Georgia?

Georgia has no law mandating breaks for employees, for workers over18 years of age. And in this case, there is no federal law to step in and require employers to give workers even a single break during the workday.

So the answer to your question is no. That applies not only to so-called “coffee breaks” but to meal breaks as well. Legally, an employer has the right to compel employees to work all day long without a break, even for 16 hours a day.

There are 30 states in the U.S., including Texas and Maryland, without laws regulating work breaks. Just 10 states, including Minnesota, require breaks.

Federal law may not regulate work breaks per se. But it does regulate payment for employee break times. The FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act, says that businesses must pay workers for any breaks that are 20 minutes long or less. But if the break exceeds 20 minutes, the employer is under no such obligation, provided that the worker has been completely free of her or his job duties during that break time.

Studies show, however, that a meal break and two quarter-hour coffee breaks are effective in boosting both employee morale and productivity. Most employers acknowledge that, and have instituted policies allowing for breaks.

The cigarette break is another matter. No proof exists that the frequent, short smoking break helps productivity, and in fact it may curtail such productivity.

Federal law has stepped in to regulate breaks in some cases. In certain lines of work like long-distance trucking, breaks are mandated.

Union contracts often require that management guarantee breaks.

Among those states that have mandated breaks, Rhode Island, as an example, has developed a two-tiered method. Employers working 6-hour shifts are entitled to a 20-minute meal break and those working 8-hour shifts have the legal right to a half-hour break.

Finally, in Wisconsin, state law “recommends” breaks but does not require them. JH

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 10:35 pm and is filed under
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18 Responses to “Georgia Break Laws”

  1. Ashley Says:

    This is a stupid law. I work 8 hours a day pulling orders for inmates, I am on my feet 8 hours a day or longer and only get a 30 min break? We have gone back to the slave days… Forcing people to work and not treating them good… Us employees work our butts off to make sure your products get out on time and you don’t even appreciate it… If the economy wasn’t so darn bad I would quit working for this government. Start treating the working americans fair or there won’t be anyone to deliver all the little things everyone needs. We will all go hungry, have no clothes, shelter, all because the government didn’t wanna treat us fair.

    Thank you

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Ashley!

    Many people agree with you. Several other states have passed laws that employees must have paid rest breaks. You can certainly contact your Georgia legislature representative, and ask him or her to pass such a law. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  3. Terrance Moody Says:

    I work up to 10 hours a day in a dine ine restaurant and I am not allowed a single break… I work in a fast pace environment, and sometimes get very frustrated and need a break, but I don’t get anything… I feel this is cruel and should not be gong on in any type of work setting. I feel that if you want a break, you should at least be allowed one.

  4. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Terrance!
    Many people would agree with you, that employees deserve at least a meal break. That’s why 19 U.S. states, from Maine to California, require them by law. Unfortunately, Georgia does not have any break law that covers employees over the age of 18. To change this, contact your representative in the state legislature. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  5. Daniel Says:

    Be thankful that you have a job!! 12+ hours, no break, thank God I have a job! Try to find something better:) Better yet, join a union!!! Watch what happens. Union = maybe get paid, for hours hopefully worked, who knows??

    Get over it. Do your job, work your shift. Plenty of people do NOT have jobs. Unemployment, see how long that lasts when companies close their doors because of ridiculous taxes that have to be paid to the “lazy” people.

    And, if you are stay at home mom, how many breaks do you get…NONE!!!

  6. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Daniel! Um, thanks for your comments. ~ Caitlin

  7. Michael Says:


    That’s one of the most idiotic and short-sighed responses I’ve read to a question that wasn’t blatantly a joke.

    If you want to lash out at someone for expecting better working conditions or for trying to raise awareness to improve the system, then I pity you my friend. If you’re so bitter and contemptuous because you yourself can’t find a job then there are plenty of jobs you can get. Hell, go join the military. I was in the Army for 3 years and am now an 80% disabled veteran, yet I don’t regret my years of service one bit and it’s allowed me to get much better jobs. If your disposition is due to you simply being a bitter person then, again, I pity you. However, don’t go spewing your clearly unhelpful and negative bile into other people’s topics. Remember that old adage your parent or guardian taught you about what to do if you have nothing nice (positive) to say.

    What it really comes down to is that in states that don’t require the implementation of a humane work environment, we’re rocketed back to Egyptian times, slaving over the pyramids. The difference is we have a few more options. We can ether work until we drop, or we have the added option of not working at all and going hungry.

    Change starts with outrage. Change begins when enough people who share the same opinion make a bigger noise than the ever-twanging thrum of corporate greed and concurrent law.

    To quote a popular monologue from “Network”, first you got to say “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

  8. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Michael! Although we usually take a very pro-employer stance on HR issues, we tend to agree with you. Our weekly email turns up touching examples of the sad truth — too many employers will only treat workers well, if the law requires that they do so. Thanks for your comments!~ Caitlin
    P.S. THANK YOU!!! For your service to our country!

  9. Ashley Says:

    This issue is just coming up with me, as I am new to Georgia, and am now working 10 hours on my feet without a break for food. I can’t believe that in 2009 there is not a federal law across the country that mandates a food break for employees. Is there a way to treat this as a human rights issue? Even prisoners get 3 squares a day.

  10. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Ashley! Many people agree with you. The best way to solve this problem is to contact your congressman, and request that he introduce such a law. HTH, and thanks for reading teh blogs!~ Caitlin

  11. Waldo Says:

    i work in a warehouse from 830 to 530 and in the summer it gets as hot as 110 degrees in here, and the employees are having to beg the employer for a 15 min break. we really do need a mandated break law.

  12. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Waldo! Thanks for your input — many people would agree with you. Be aware that under OSHA standards, employers must take steps to prevent heat stress and heat stroke in employees. In hot weather, that means allowing plenty of drinking water and may mean permitting breaks. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

    Find more about this at

  13. The complete US airport listing Says:

    Know the parts of your blog Each entry customarily consists of the title, the body, and the post date.

  14. Caitlin Says:

    Thanks for reading the blogs,K-melon!~ Caitlin

  15. laborer Says:

    Georgia is still a slave state by not mandating breaks (lunch and other breaks). This is one messed up state to work in. I am surprised there are so many people living in this state.

  16. Caitlin Says:

    Hi laborer! Thanks for weighing in with your opinion. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  17. Franzy Batista Says:

    Can I pay my employees strictly commission and my business is an LLC and File taxes as an S-corp can all my employees be a 1099 worker with out breaking any law in the state of Georgia?
    Thank you for your answer.

  18. hrlady Says:

    Hi Franzy,
    Since Georgia doesn’t have its own regulations on such matters, we defer to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA sets the guidelines for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Most American workers are covered by the FLSA. There are two ways in which an employee can be covered by the law: enterprise coverage and individual coverage. Enterprise coverage refers to businesses or organizations employing at least two employees, having an annual dollar volume of sales or business done of at least $500,000, and hospitals, businesses providing medical or nursing care for residents, schools and preschools, and government agencies. Absent enterprise coverage, employees are protected by the FLSA if their work regularly involves them in interstate commerce. Thus, regardless of the type of business, you’re subject to the FLSA if you meet the above guidelines. HTH.

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