Federal law does not require employers to give employees a break during work hours, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. State laws vary as to how long an employee works between breaks. A 30-minute meal break for every five to six hours worked is standard in those states that do have such laws in place.
There are only eight states - California, Minnesota, Colorado, Vermont, Kentucky, Nevada and Washington, that have mandates requiring employers to give their employees rest breaks. Outside of those states it is up to individual employers to decide if breaks are necessary, and when an employee should take them if they are.
When it comes to meal breaks, the laws are similarly diverse and many states have no legal rules regarding the taking of meal breaks. However, when employees are required to work while eating lunch, they may be entitled to compensation for this time under state law.