In some areas like New York, there is a difference in what the federal laws and the state laws provide about meal breaks and rest breaks. The federal law does not capture any rights to the employee to get time off and eat lunch or any meal. It also does not provide any right to the employee to take short breaks during the day.
You will, however, find many employers giving these breaks due to custom or recognizing that the employee needs time to rest or eat to increase their productivity. In the states where employers follow the federal law, the employer pays the employee all the working and break hours. When an employee, for example, works through the lunch hour or eats while doing their job, they should receive compensation for using their lunch break hour to work.
These laws are only functional when the employer allows for breaks, which the federal laws do not guarantee to offer.
In New York, since the state law requires an employer to give their employees a meal break, the length of the break is dependent on the type of industry and the shift. Employees that work in a factory should receive a one-hour food break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. while all other employees that the New York labor laws cover should get a 30-minute break in between the same timeframe. Employees that start an early shift of 11 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. should receive a 30-minute break from 5 p.m. until the time that they end their work for the day. The law also provides a meal break in the middle of the shift of employees that get a working shift of more than six hours.