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Meal & Break time for Hourly Workers

I have question regarding employee meal and break time in NYC. We have number of warehouse hourly workers who work in between 8am~6pm M~F. Scenario 1: If company has 12pm~1pm lunch (1hr) policy (1) Does the employer have to provide additional break times throughout the day? (2) Does the employer have to pay for additional break times? Scenario 2: If the company has 12:00pm~12:30pm lunch and 12:31pm~1pm break time (1) Can the employer ask employees to take a 30min. break after their lunch? (2) Is mandatory break time for employees allowed under NYS labor law?

Though meal periods and rest breaks are not required of private employers under federal law, NYS does have specific mandates for employers to provide meal periods.

Under NYS labor law, every employee in a factory is entitled to at least 60 minutes for a noonday meal. Employees in other covered industries must be allowed 30 minutes for a noonday meal.

Per the NYS Department of Labor:

The noonday meal period is recognized as extending from eleven o’clock in the morning to two o’clock in the afternoon. An employee who works a shift of more than six hours, which extends over the noonday meal period, is entitled to at least 30 minutes within that period for the meal period.

Every person employed for a period or shift starting before eleven o’clock in the morning and continuing later than seven o’clock in the evening shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least 20 minutes between five and seven o’clock in the evening.

Every person employed for a period or shift of more than six hours starting between the hours of one o’clock in the afternoon and six o’clock in the morning, shall be allowed at least 60 minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a factory, and 45 minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with another covered industry, at a time midway between the beginning and end of such employment.

To answer your questions:

Scenario 1:
1. No, additional break times wouldn’t be needed since the meal period would be provided during the noonday meal period as defined by state regulations.
2. Meal periods don’t count as work time and need not be paid. However, short breaks typically lasting less than 20 minutes are counted as work time and must be paid.

Scenario 2:
1. There is no law prohibiting an employer from requiring an employee to take a break directly following a meal period. However, what is the purpose of doing so? If you want employees to take a full hour meal period than require them to do so. Otherwise, calling half the time a meal period and the other half a break has no benefit to you.
2. Yes, employers are permitted to mandate employees to take a meal period or rest break. In fact, it’s your obligation to adhere to the meal period law. Breaks in addition to the meal period can be required as a matter of company policy but just remember they must be paid.

It’s fairly common for employees working from 8AM to 6 PM who receive a 30 minute meal period at noontime to then receive a short break (usually 5-15 minutes) in the afternoon. Remember, happy and healthy employees are more productive. If you see a need for the additional break and it won’t significantly affect business operations then you should do it. HTH!

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2015 at 10:01 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws, Workplace Management.
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