Employees are often surprised to learn that Arizona law does not require employers to grant meal or rest/smoke breaks to their employees.  Neither does any federal law.

Meal Breaks:  However, if an Arizona employer decides to grant meal breaks, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA) requires the time be paid under certain conditions. Generally, if the meal period lasts less than thirty minutes, it must be paid.  Even if a lunch period lasts thirty minutes or more, it must be paid if the employee does any work during the lunch period (including reading emails or reading work related materials). Basically, if an employee is not completely relieved of all duties during a 30 minute or longer lunch period, he/she must be paid.  Bona Fide meal breaks (those that last 30 minutes or longer and no work is performed) do not count toward hours worked for purposes of determining overtime; in contrast, paid meal periods do count as worked hours when calculating overtime and also for the purpose of accruing paid sick leave under Arizona’s recently adopted Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act.

Rest/Smoke Breaks:  Pursuant to the FLSA, breaks that last less than 20 minutes must be paid.  If an employer grants breaks that last twenty minutes or longer, they do not have to pay for the break time.

Breaks to Express Milk:  Section 7 of the FLSA requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.  Employers also must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public for an employee to express breast milk. Breaks lasting 20 minutes or less must be paid; those in excess of 20 minutes need not be paid.

If you are an employee and you believe your employer is not properly compensating you for break times or for overtime, contact the experienced employment lawyers at Faulkner Law Offices, PLLC today.