In Montana, are employers required to give breaks under any state or federal law? Does it matter how old the employee is, or if it’s in the fast food industry?
There are very few states with laws regulating work breaks. Montana is among many that does not require employers to give breaks to workers over the age of 18.
Montana joins a number of states without break laws including Utah, Georgia, Alaska North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. In these states, an employer can make an employee work all day without a break, even if a shift lasts 16 or more hours. The employer need not offer meal breaks, smoke breaks, or short rest breaks.
Realistically, however, most employees realize the need for breaks, and know that research has shown that employees who get breaks are more productive. Typically, employers give two 15-minute rest breaks during an 8-hour day and a single 30-minute meal break. That includes fast-food chains.
Workers under 18 are protected by child labor laws. In many states, workers under 18 must receive a meal break. Almost without exception, states require meal breaks for workers who are less than 16 years old.
In Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Kentucky, Colorado, and California, to name a few, there are break laws applying to all workers. In these states, laws require a 10-minute break during every 4 hours worked. The laws usually require that the break be somewhere in the middle of this period. In Minnesota, on the other hand, the law only requires what is called a “reasonable break” to use the nearest bathroom, and then only once during a 4-hour work period.
Illinois limits its work break regulations to a very small segment of the workforce, applying it only to hotel room attendants in Chicago. In any shift of 7 or more hours, the worker is legally entitled to a single 30-minute unpaid break and two 15-minute unpaid breaks.
In Maine, Colorado, and California, a worker is entitled to a half-hour meal break, unpaid, if he or she works 6 or more hours. In Connecticut and Delaware, on the other hand, one must work 7.5 hours to be covered under the mandatory meal break law. JH
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