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What Breaks Am I Entitled To At Work?


Whether your job is labor-intensive or you have a desk job, we all need a break during the workday to rest and recharge. However, many employees might not know what rights they’re entitled to regarding meal and rest periods or if they’re entitled to these breaks at all. Because of this, some employees may be working without breaks that they deserve or not being fully compensated. Taking time to eat and rest is essential for our health and wellbeing, so it’s essential for employees to know the meal and rest periods their employers are entitled to give them.

At Brown Kwon & Lam, we’re committed to helping New York City workers protect their employee rights and getting them the treatment they deserve in the workplace. According to federal law, employees are not entitled to a meal or rest break. However, New York does require that employers provide this, and what exact breaks you’re entitled to vary.

Non-Factory Workers

Employees who do not work in factories are entitled to receive a 30-minute meal period between 11 AM and 2 PM when they work a shift that is six hours or longer. However, if an employee works a shift six hours or longer between 1 PM and 6 AM, they are entitled to a 45 minute meal period midway through their shift. This applies to workers in the private and public sectors.

Factory Workers

Employees who work in factories are entitled to a 60 minute meal period between 11 AM and 2 PM when they work a shift of six hours or longer. They are also entitled to a 60 minute meal period when they work a shift of six hours or longer between the hours of 1 PM and 6 AM midway through their shift.

All Workers

All workers, regardless of whether or not they work in a factory, are entitled to a second meal period that needs to be at least 20 minutes long when they start work before 11 AM and their shift lasts until after 7 PM.

Can You Be Required to Work Through Meal Periods?

For a meal period to meet New York’s qualifications, employees have to be relieved of their work duties. However, their employer may require them to stay on the premises during their meal period. Additionally, employees may take their meal period at their desks, so long as they are relieved of work duties while they eat. If employees are required to listen to speakers or attend presentations during their meal period, this does not count as their required meal period. However, if employees voluntarily attend these events, it may be considered their meal period.

In some cases, employees may be required to work through their meal period. This is permissible if an employee is the only one on duty and can’t leave their position. When this is necessary, employees are allowed to eat while they work. This is known as the “One-Employee Shift” exception. Employees may also be able to waive their right to a meal period in certain circumstances.

Are New York Employers Entitled to Rest Periods?

New York does not require that employers provide their employees with short rest periods during their shifts. However, many choose to do so. If an employer does choose to provide short rest, these must be counted as hours worked. Meal periods do not have to be paid.

Contact Brown Kwon & Lam If Your Rights Have Been Violated

Understanding what rights you’re entitled to in the workplace can be challenging, so you might not know what to do when you believe they’ve been violated. New York provides many additional rights to employees that their employers need to respect, but this is not always the case. If you aren’t receiving the breaks you’re entitled to during your workday, contact the employee rights attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam today.