Every state has its rules governing the amount of time employers are required to provide for their workers to rest and eat. Rest breaks and meal breaks are not obligated by every state, but some, such as Tennessee, do require meal breaks for workers. It is not uncommon for employees and their bosses to face wage and hour disputes regarding these breaks. There are important facts to understand about the law in order for workers to recognize when an employer is denying them their rights.
There is no federal law ordering employers to allow workers time for breaks during the work day. However, states or even individual employers may provide such breaks. When a state law requires rest periods during the workday, an employer must comply. Frequently, as in Tennessee, a meal break is 30 minutes or more of unpaid time during which an employer may not require the worker to complete work-related duties, such as answering the phone.
Rest breaks are shorter than a meal break. Some states require these breaks to occur once in every four-hour work period, while other states, such as Tennessee, do not require them at all. Rest breaks are typically paid, so the worker does not clock out. Nursing mothers are entitled to access to a reasonable amount of time to express milk throughout the day, according to federal law.
Workers whose employers make them work while on a meal break deserve compensation. This is only one example of common wage and hour disputes than may arise in the workplace. Employees who feel their bosses are taking unfair advantage of them and denying fair pay for their work may find information about seeking justice with the assistance of an employment attorney.