Colorado Break Laws

January 8th 2024

Laws regarding breaks are crucial for fostering a positive work environment, boosting efficiency, and protecting the rights of workers.

Colorado has implemented specific laws that outline the rights of employees and the responsibilities of employers in ensuring adequate breaks while adhering to legal requirements.

This article aims to offer a comprehensive overview of Colorado’s break laws, detailing the regulations surrounding meal breaks, rest breaks, waiting time, and other relevant provisions.

This article covers:


Rest Breaks in Colorado

A rest period in Colorado is a 10-minute break that is given after 4 hours of work, ideally. The number of required rest periods depends on the hours worked as follows:

If you work for 2 or fewer hours, you are not entitled to any rest periods. 

If you work more than 2 hours, but up to 6 hours, you are entitled to 1 rest period.

If you work more than 6 hours, but up to 10 hours, you are entitled to 2 rest periods. 

If you work more than 10 hours, but up to 14 hours, you are entitled to 3 rest periods.

If you work more than 14 hours, but up to 18 hours, you are entitled to 4 rest periods. 

If you work more than 18 hours, but up to 22 hours, you are entitled to 5 rest periods. 

If you work over 22 hours, you are entitled to 6 rest periods. 

Meal Breaks in Colorado

Employees in Colorado are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes when an employee works for more than 5 consecutive hours.

During this time, employees should not be expected to perform any work duties and they will not be paid for their break time. 

However, if the situation requires the employee to eat while working, this time should be fully compensated. 

Ideally, the meal break should be scheduled for at least 1 hour after the start of the shift and 1 hour before the end, if feasible.  

Note: In Colorado, employees have the option to deduct the cost of meals from their paychecks if needed. However, there are regulations in place that require these deductions to be based on fair market value or reasonable cost. Employers are prohibited from making a profit from these meal deductions. It is important to note that the law specifies that the meal must be consumed during an employee’s break time before any deductions can be made.

Entitlement to Meal Breaks in Colorado

The types of employees in Colorado who are entitled to meal breaks include food and beverage workers, commercial support service workers, retail and service workers, housekeeping employees, dry cleaning employees, and medical and health facilities employees. 

However, certain employees are exempt from meal breaks, such as administrative, executive/supervisor, professional, outside sales employees, elected officials and their staff, companions, casual babysitters, property managers, interstate drivers, driver helpers, loaders or mechanics of motor carriers, domestic employees employed by households or family members, taxi cab drivers, and bona fide volunteers.

Additionally, students employed by sororities, fraternities, college clubs, or dormitories, students participating in a work experience study program, and employees working in charitable institution laundries that do not provide wages to workers or inmates are also exempt. The same exemption applies to patient workers in institutional laundries.

If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Colorado, and your rights as an hourly employee in Colorado.

Waiting Time in Colorado

Colorado has specific regulations regarding waiting time for employees.

According to state law, if an employee is asked to wait at work under certain circumstances, that time must be considered as work time. 

This includes situations where an employee is on-call and restricted from engaging in personal activities or when the employee is waiting between job duties during the regular workday. 

However, if an employee has the freedom to perform personal activities outside the workplace and has enough time to respond to calls, this waiting time may not be considered as paid work hours.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Colorado

Federal and Colorado state laws dictate that employers must allow new mothers who are breastfeeding a reasonable amount of break time to do so, as well as provide a private space that is not a bathroom for feeding the baby.

This applies to both public and private employers and can be unpaid break time or the use of paid break or meal time.

This is to ensure that mothers have the necessary accommodations to take care of their newborns while still maintaining their employment.

Meal and Break Period for Minors in Colorado

Under the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act (CYEOA), a minor is defined as an individual under the age of 18, except those who have passed the General Educational Development exam or obtained a high school diploma.

In Colorado, there is no specific legislation addressing break rules for minors in the workplace. 

Minors in Colorado are entitled to the same meal and rest break benefits as adult employees, without any special privileges or exemptions. 

It is important to note that minors, especially those who are students, have restrictions on the number of hours they can work per week. 

Some states also have restrictions on the working hours of minors, typically prohibiting work past a certain time on school nights. However, during the summer months, minors generally have fewer restrictions on their working hours.

Full-time and Part-time Employment in Colorado

In Colorado, the general understanding is that full-time work typically involves working between 30 and 40 hours per week.

On the other hand, part-time work is commonly considered to be any employment that involves less than 30 hours per week.

It is important to note that the specific definition of full-time work can vary among different employers.

Learn more about Colorado Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.