Labor Law on Lunch Breaks
Some people are born workaholics and they hate breaks. They say that frequent and uncalled intervals break their rhythm to work. But lunch breaks as a whole falls into a different category and is not calculated under the working hours.
General set of labor laws on lunch breaks should be decently observed by all the employers so that they do not cause discomfort to the working habit of an employee.
All the employers in the United States are expected to observe the Federal Labor Laws. These Federal Laws do not provide for lunch or coffee breaks. But it is inevitable that we human beings are bound to get tired after long hours of work. So we need to recharge ourselves in the form of small capsules and that is lunch or coffee breaks.
Optional for the Employees to Give Lunch Breaks
Each State in the United States has their specific labor laws applicable to all the employers. According to the Federal Law, if an employee puts in more than forty hours in a week then he/she must be remunerated one and a half times of the normal hour rate for working beyond forty hours in a week.
At this juncture it is also pertinent to note that under the US Federal Law, the employer is under no obligation to provide lunch or coffee breaks to the employees and to pay for such intervals. States like California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington are liberal on this note and they do provide short breaks of ten minutes for every four hour shift. But speaking in particular of the labor law on lunch breaks; it is justified not to pay the employees during the lunch breaks unless you are engaged in some work. The employee must pay for the lunch break in case you are not using it for the same.
Is It a Forced Meal Break?
It is also a matter of mutual settlement between the employer and employee. An employer cannot force the employee for a compulsory lunch break when you want to work even during that time. As there are many workers who take their lunch while working on their personal computer. Due to so much of ambiguity, the US Federal law does not mandate the employers to be bound by any labor laws regarding Work break and Meal Laws.
The Basic Industry Standards
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides for certain Sanitation standard which through its interpretation suggests that the employees should provide lunch breaks if they expect the employees to work beyond the normal working hours. Any organization observes the basic Industry-Standards and the OSHA standards considering the welfare of its employees. Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also vouches for work breaks such as lunch break apart from the Federal labor laws.
Meal Breaks are justified to the extent that if the employer provides voluntarily such breaks he must compensate the employees for such breaks, as one cannot force the employees to take such breaks. There are State laws already operating on this issue and every industry coming under its jurisdiction must comply with the same. Therefore the Federal labor law does not mandate the employer to give lunch breaks but usually industries do give lunch intervals.