What Are Some OSHA Requirements Regarding Breaks and Lunches?


Quick Answer

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t regulate the number or length of breaks or lunches, according to the Houston Chronicle. However, OSHA requires businesses to provide restroom facilities, and it mandates that employers allow employees to take restroom breaks when they indicate a need. Many states have their own laws regulating food and rest breaks.

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Full Answer

While the federal government doesn’t require businesses to offer short breaks or food breaks, it does have guidelines for breaks if employers choose to offer them. If businesses give employees short breaks lasting five to 20 minutes, then the employers must compensate workers for that time. However, employers don’t have to pay employees for food breaks lasting at least 30 minutes, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Businesses can require employees to stay on the premises during a lunch break, although employers can’t assign duties to employees who are on uncompensated breaks, adds the National Federation of Independent Business. Employers who require employees to eat at their desks or work stations must pay employees for that time.

The rules for nursing mothers are different from those of other employees, as noted in the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Employers with at least 50 employees must provide work breaks and private facilities to nursing mothers with children less than 1 year old, explains the Houston Chronicle.

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