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What should I know about meal and rest breaks?

Understanding your rights as a worker in the state of Oklahoma is paramount. You may be wondering if state or federal law requires your employer to provide you with mandated rest or meal breaks while you are on the clock.

The reality is that neither federal nor Oklahoma law requires an employer to give an employee rest breaks or lunch breaks. The law sees breaks as “benefits” that an employer provides to employees, and thus these are at the discretion of the employer. According to the state of Oklahoma, employers do not need to provide break or lunch periods for workers over the age of 16 years old.

Understanding breaks

Even though neither federal nor Oklahoma state law requires employers to provide employees breaks, there are some federal guidelines on the matter. For instance, If an employer offers short breaks between 5 to 20 minutes long, federal law deems those breaks as work time that your employer must include in your total work hour tally. Some places of employment may call these short paid breaks coffee breaks, smoking breaks, or “taking 10.”

Essentially, if you go on a break between 5 and 20 minutes long, your employer should pay you for the break. This is because short breaks increase the productivity of an employee, so giving an employee a short break is actually beneficial for the employer.

Understanding meal breaks

Federal law states that a meal period is 30 minutes or longer. The government does not require employers to give employees meal breaks. If an employer does give meal breaks, that time is unpaid.