The Rules Every Employee Needs To Know About Meal Breaks

Many employees take advantage of their employers when it comes to meal breaks. Here are the rules so you and your coworkers know what you can and can't do.

Do you know what your rights are for meal breaks?


Many people are concerned with the time they work. We've previously touched on the number of total hours that we are required to work and when overtime kicks in, but what about meals and breaks? Do you know that employee who skips out ten minutes early for lunch or takes a few minutes for a second cigarette?

While all standards can be superseded by employer regulations, all changes must either be to the betterment of the employees or they must be signed off by all parties to ensure that everyone feels they aren't being taken advantage of. Though the signature may be digital, a verbal agreement isn't enough for these elements.

So what about those meal breaks? What's fair for the employee?

When it comes to your meal breaks, you are required to have a half hour unpaid break every 5 hours of work. Upon agreement, this period can be broken into two, but what's important is that you have the opportunity to leave the premises if you choose.

Given that situation, if your employer has opted to pay you for that time or has offered additional breaks, then you are getting more than what's expected. 

You may have an employer who freely offers longer lunches and breaks or you may have negotiated it, so before you complain about a coworker taking longer, first learn whether everyone should have the same time and then use the proper channels to discuss your issues so you don't have to worry about office conflicts.