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A basic guide to your meal breaks as a New York employee

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Employment Law for Employees |

Meal breaks are a vital aspect of workplace efficiency and employee satisfaction. This pause from work reduces stress, promotes mental health and boosts productivity. Unfortunately, many employees are not aware of how meal breaks work in their state, often leaving their rights at risk.

Rules on meal breaks

In New York, rules on meal breaks vary depending on the type of employee covered. Specifically, the following rules apply:

  • Factory workers: The law entitles factory workers to a 60-minute lunch break between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and a 60-minute meal break in the middle of a shift exceeding six hours between 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Non-factory workers: The law provides non-factory workers a 30-minute lunch break between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. if they work a shift of more than six hours that extends over that period and a 45-minute meal break in the middle of a shift exceeding six hours between 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • All workers: All employers must allow their employees at least 30 minutes of meal period if they work more than six hours in a workday and an additional 20-minute meal break between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for work that extends from before 11:00 a.m. to after 7:00 p.m.

The guidelines are complex and can be overwhelming. Hence, proper research and competent guidance are necessary to ensure you understand the rules correctly.

Are meal breaks paid?

Generally, meal breaks do not count as an employee’s hours worked. Hence, the law does not require employers to pay employees for such time. However, employers must pay for an employee’s meal break under specific circumstances, such as when an employee works through their meal period due to one-employee shift requirements.

Failure to give meal breaks

Employers who do not give their employees the required meal breaks under the state law have to compensate their employees for their time worked during those periods, including overtime pay if the time adds up to more than 40 hours in a week.

Protect your rights

As an employee, you deserve fairness and respect from your employer and their violation of the laws on breaks is a violation of your rights. If you are experiencing wage and hour issues with your employer, it is advisable to seek guidance from an experienced employment law attorney to ensure your rights remain protected.