Protect Your Constitutional Rights In the Face of Criminal Charges or Employment Discrimination REACH OUT NOW

Does Your Boss Have To Give You Any Breaks During Your Work Shift?

April 20, 2022

Two people in construction hats sitting and drinking coffeeMany clients ask whether it's the law that their employer must give them breaks during their shifts. It makes sense that if you work 8-Hour shifts, then your boss would have to give you a break. But what does the law actually say about it?

Labor Laws Governing Breaks at Work

In Missouri, there are two sets of laws which govern labor: Missouri state law, enforced by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; and Federal law, enforced by U.S. Department of Labor. No matter which set of laws applies to your employment situation, the answer to whether your employer is required to give you a break during your shift is: No.

Missouri Law Doesn't Require Your Boss to Give You Breaks During Your Shift

Under Missouri law, employers are not required "to provide employees a break of any kind, including a lunch hour. These provisions are either left up to the discretion of the employer, can be agreed upon by the employer and employee, or may be addressed by company policy or contract."

Break Times for Employees Under the Age of 16

If you are less than 16 Years of Age and working in Missouri, the law still does not require your boss to give you a break of any kind during your shift. Any such breaks are at the discretion of your employer.

Entertainment Industry Workers Under the Age of 16

If you are considered are under 16 Years of Age and employed in the entertainment industry, then your boss is required to give "breaks and rest periods...A youth cannot work more than five and one-half hours without a meal break. Additionally, a 15-minute rest period (which counts as work time) is required after each two hours of continuous work for youth in the entertainment industry."

Federal Law Doesn't Require Your Boss to Give You Breaks During Your Shift

Federal law does not require your employer to give you meal or coffee breaks. However, if they do provide for shorter breaks, 5 to 20 minutes, then they must include that time as "compensable work hours". That is, they have to pay you for it.

Lunch Breaks are Unpaid Breaks

A 30-Minute Lunch break, if provided by your employer, is not considered compensable work time. This means that your employer is not required to pay you for your lunch break. There are exceptions to this, for example if you eat lunch at your desk while working then you must be compensated for that time. Some employers make employees take their lunch breaks away from their desks to avoid this situation.

If your employer provides breaks for some employees but not others, then they may be liable for discrimination. If you believe this to be the case at your work, contact Anthony Bretz today to discuss your options.