When reviewing your employment agreement, you must analyze the terms and conditions of your paid or unpaid lunch break or otherwise your rest break. Importantly, you must anticipate the possibility that your employer may not offer you one. Continue reading to learn what happens if your employer does not let me take my lunch break and how an experienced employment agreement attorney in Gloucester County NJ, at The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C., can help you understand your rights.
What are the federal laws regarding lunch breaks?
Contrary to what you may assume, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require that employers provide lunch breaks or rest breaks to their employees. More specifically, this federal law holds that an employer does not have to pay an employee for the time they take for a lunch break or rest break. This is unless the following circumstances apply:
- Unless the employee works through their lunch break or rest break.
- Unless the employee takes a break that is 20 minutes or less.
- Unless the state where the employer is operating requires paid breaks.
What if my New Jersey employer does not let me take my lunch break?
Even though federal law may not mandate lunch breaks, some states have stepped in to do so. Namely, in the state of New Jersey, an employer has to provide an employee time to take a lunch break or a rest break if the following circumstances apply:
- If the employee is under the age of 18.
- If the employee has worked for five or more consecutive hours.
- If the employee takes a break that is 30 minutes or more.
Though a New Jersey employee may be entitled to a lunch break or rest break, they may not be entitled to be paid during this time. In addition, New Jersey does not have a provision for the number of breaks an employee is required to get for working longer than an eight-hour shift.
What else should I know about rest breaks in the state of New Jersey?
An employer should not force an employee to work during their lunch break or rest break. This is especially if there are other employees on staff during this time and if you specifically request an uninterrupted break. If they do, then an employee may be able to fight to recover payment.
On the other hand, an employer should not force an employee to take their lunch break or rest break. But when an employee refuses to take a break, their employer should keep this documented.
With all that being said, we recommend that you consult with one of the skilled New Jersey employment lawyers before you sign your employment agreement. Schedule your initial consultation with us today.