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What You Need to Know About Employee Breaks

October 24th, 2016
Employee Breaks

…Before Starting your Business

When you hire even one employee, many different laws become important to your business. Employment laws can relate to wages, overtime payments, benefits, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, safe working conditions, insurance coverage, taxes, and many additional matters. Compliance with any applicable laws is necessary to avoid legal liability or civil penalties. One law that is important yet often overlooked sets out specific requirements for employee break time. If you plan to hire anyone, you should be aware of break requirements before you begin operations and design your employee’s schedules accordingly.

Breaks for Minors

Many small businesses benefit from hiring cheap labor for simple tasks, so high school students are often considered for such jobs. If you employee anyone under the age of 18-years-old, the law in New Jersey requires that you provide them a meal break of at least thirty minutes after they have worked for five consecutive hours. You should ensure that your young employees comply with the law and do not skip this break period as that could result in a violation of child labor laws.

Other Requirements for Breaks

There are no specific federal or NJ laws that require meal or rest breaks for adult employees. Instead, you should design your own policy on providing breaks. However, you must be consistent in providing the same opportunities for breaks to all employees otherwise you risk being accused of discriminating against certain employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also addresses the matter of payment for break time, as follows:

  • If you provide rest breaks of less than 20 minutes, you must pay employees for that time;
  • You do not have to pay for meal breaks;
  • If an employer continues to work while they eat their meal, it will be included in their hours worked and you will have to pay them for that time.

The rules regarding employee breaks can be confusing and many laws can be involved. It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney who provides business consulting services.

Call 732 238-8686 today for more information.

All employers should make sure they are complying with every relevant employment law to avoid any adverse penalties or employee disputes. At the law firm of Bowne Barry & Barry, we help New Jersey business owners with a variety of legal issues, including employment. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact our office today.