Is there any federal law that an Alabama employer must give coffee breaks or meal breaks to workers?
In Alabama, no federal or state law requires employers to provide workers with breaks. Employers are required to pay workers for breaks that last 20 minutes or less, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
There are many states that have no break laws. Among them are Utah, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, and Mississippi. In all of these states, employers may require employees to work for a full day without taking any breaks. Even if an employee’s shift lasts for 16 hours or more, the ruling applies.
There are a few states, including Oregon and California that have laws requiring virtually all workers to receive regular breaks. This includes one meal break per shift.
Depending upon a worker’s age, the rules regarding breaks might also be different. There are many states that require meal breaks for employees who are under the age of 18. Virtually all states require meal breaks for employees under the age of 16. Each state’s child labor laws govern such regulations.
Research has been conducted showing that employees are more productive when they are provided with breaks. It is not uncommon for employers to allow their workers to have two 15-minute rest breaks, plus one 30-minute meal break during an eight-hour shift. Federal law stipulates that 15-minute breaks have to be paid.
When employees have to be available for work during their meal break, he or she must be paid for that time. For instance, a graphic artist who works on his or her designs while eating a sandwich must be paid.
When employers do choose to provide breaks, they need to do it in such a way that does not constitute any type of illegal discrimination. When an employer gives breaks to one drill press operator, they need to also give breaks to all of the others. To do otherwise might put the employer in violation of the federal anti-discrimination laws. JH
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