Federal law doesn't require rest breaks or lunch breaks, although many states mandate how long breaks must be and when they must occur in the workday, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Companies that offer rest breaks lasting 20 minutes or less must compensate employees for the time.
Employers also must count small breaks toward the total number of hours an employee works, including for the determination of overtime. Employers aren't required to compensate employees for meal breaks, which usually last at least 30 minutes, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. State laws on breaks vary, but many states require a 30-minute unpaid break per shift for employees who work at least six hours.