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Meal and Rest Break Requirements by State

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Meal and rest break laws pose a challenge for most employers, but especially for multistate employers because the requirements vary significantly from state to state. This chart covers key details about these requirements, including:

  • Which employees, if any, are entitled to a meal and/or rest break, and when;
  • The duration of required breaks;
  • Additional provisions, such as timing and facilities; and
  • Available exemptions.

Certain state meal and rest break requirements are specific to minors. These requirements often go hand in hand with state restrictions on the hours during which minors are allowed to work. For more information on state child labor restrictions, see Child Labor Working Hour Restrictions by State.

Be aware that there are other break requirements involving breastfeeding and days of rest, which can sometimes overlap with meal and rest break requirements. For example, many states allow breastfeeding breaks to run concurrently with any other breaks provided by an employer, including meal and rest breaks. For state-by-state information on these additional break requirements, see Lactation/Breastfeeding Breaks and Facility Accommodation Requirements by State and Municipality and Day of Rest Requirements by State.

Employers also should consider including an employee handbook policy that establishes expectations for meal breaks and demonstrates compliance with applicable federal and/or state law. It is important to distribute meal and rest break policies and procedures to employees in writing.

States that have no requirements regarding meal or rest breaks are marked N/A. In the absence of state requirements, federal rules may apply.