Are Employees Always Entitled to Lunch Breaks?

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Depending on the state in which an employee works, he may be entitled to a lunch break, although lunch breaks are not mandated under federal law, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For instance, California is an example of a state where the labor code grants workers meal periods.

In California, if an employer requires employees to work more than 5 hours a day, the employer must allow employees a 30-minute meal period. During this period, employees are free from all work-related duties. If an employee is asked to perform some function of the job while on a lunch break, then the time is considered part of the employee's normal work hours and is compensated at the employee's regular pay rate, according to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations.

Workers should consult the department of labor where they are employed for details on the labor statutes governing their particular state.