Wage and hour law issues can be complicated given that there are both federal and state laws that govern wage and hour requirements. Rest and meal breaks represent one common area of questions that invoke wage and hour laws. Do you have questions about rest breaks and meal breaks in the Georgia workplace? The following are four things you should know about work breaks under federal and state law.
1. Workers in Georgia Are Not Entitled to Meal or Rest Breaks
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Georgia state law, there are no requirements for employees to have rest breaks or meal periods. In other words, no matter how many hours you work in a day or during a particular shift, there are no federal or state laws in place that say you are entitled to a break or meal period.
However, if your employer does offer you a rest break (typically of anywhere from 5-20 minutes), federal law says that you must be paid for that time. To be clear, an employer cannot deduct a short rest break from your wages. As long as a meal break (typically at least 30 minutes) is a bona fide meal period, that break can be lawfully deducted from your wages.
2. Employees Who Are Minors (Under the Age of 18) Also Are Not Entitled to Meal or Rest Breaks
The FLSA does not have any provisions about meal and rest breaks for minors. Accordingly, the FLSA applies to both employees under the age of 18 and adult employees. This means that federal law does not provide for any meal or rest breaks for younger employees. While many states have laws that specifically provide a required meal break or rest break for a minor, a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) fact sheet clarifies that Georgia does not have a law like this. As such, even if you are under the age of 18, you are not entitled to a rest or meal break.
3. If You Are Given a Meal Break, It Must Be a Bona Fide Meal Period Or You Must Be Paid
If your employer does give you a meal break, it must be a “bona fide meal period” in order for an employer to deduct that time from your wages. A bona fide meal period is a time when the employee is not required to perform any work tasks and truly has that time to herself. If an employer requires an employee to perform any type of work task during a meal period, then the employer must compensate the employee for her time.
4. Employers Must Pay for Short Rest Breaks If They Make Rest Breaks Available
Although the FLSA does not require employees to have rest breaks, and there are no Georgia state laws that require employers to provide employees with rest breaks, it is important for employers and employees alike to know that there are wage and hour law requirements as soon as an employer opts to give rest breaks.
Contact a Georgia Wage and Hour Lawyer
If you have a wage and hour law violation case, you should discuss your options with a Georgia wage and hour law attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Vaughn Law Firm for more information about how we can assist you.