Delaware Break Laws

February 21st 2024

Both employers and employees need to understand and comply with Delaware break laws to create a safe and productive work environment. Adhering to these regulations ensures that employees receive the breaks they are entitled to under the labor laws. Employers can prioritize their workers’ well-being and productivity by providing them with the appropriate duration and frequency of breaks.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the regulations surrounding breaks in Delaware, including information about the exemptions for certain types of work and the consequences of denying breaks.

This article covers:


Rest Breaks in Delaware

Delaware break laws do not mandate specific rest periods for employees. However, employers can provide short rest breaks lasting from 5 to 20 minutes for the purpose of restroom or coffee breaks at their discretion. According to the FLSA Code of Regulations Title 29 § 785.18, if employers provide rest breaks, such breaks must be counted as hours worked and employees should be compensated accordingly.

Meal Breaks in Delaware

According to Delaware break laws, all employees scheduled to work 7.5 hours or more per day must receive a meal break of at least 30 consecutive minutes. Employees can have a meal break after the first 2 hours of work or before the last 2 hours of work.

However, the meal break requirement may not apply if:

  • The employee is a professional certified by the State Board of Education and employed by a local school board to work directly with children.
  • There is a collective bargaining agreement or other employer-employee written agreement.

Furthermore, there are also rules issued that grant exemptions to meal break requirements.

Break Exemption in Delaware

Delaware break laws state that employees must be completely relieved from their duties during the break, and break time should be free and uninterrupted. Some specific employees are exempt due to the nature of their jobs.

Under Delaware’s Administrative Code 1327 Rules Relating to Exemptions from Meal Break Requirements, the following job nature may exempt employees from meal break requirements and compensate employees for the time spent eating at their workstations and using restroom facilities.

The meal break requirement does not apply if:

  • Public safety may be compromised if employees are not present in their designated posts. If an employee takes the mandatory 30-minute meal break, it may lead to situations where there is a chance of injury, harm, or damage to people or property.
  • There is only one employee who is capable of performing the duties required for a particular position.
  • Businesses with only up to 5 employees.
  • Businesses require continuous operations, such as those involved in chemical production research experiments or healthcare services. In such lines of work, employees must be available to respond to urgent or unusual conditions at all times.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Delaware

In Delaware, employers are mandated to provide a reasonable duration for breastfeeding breaks and a comfortable lactation room to allow nursing employees to express milk.

According to the FLSA PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, an employer should provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is protected from the public’s view and free from intrusion from coworkers. The Delaware Code Title 19 § 710.21 added that reasonable accommodations may also include, but are not limited to, providing more frequent or more prolonged breaks, periodic rest, job restructuring, light duty assignments, and the acquisition of equipment for sitting to create a breastfeeding-friendly workplace

However, employers with fewer than 50 employees can be exempt from providing the space requirements or lactation room if they can demonstrate that providing such would impose undue hardship on the employer’s business.

Penalties for Employers in Delaware Denying Breaks

Employers who discriminate against or discharge employees who have made complaints or have given information to Delaware Department of Labor regarding a violation of denying breaks shall be deemed to be in violation and be subject to an administrative penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 for each violation.

Furthermore, if the employer has denied breastfeeding breaks or any willful violation of the requirement, it is punishable by a fine of not more than $100 for each separate offense. Nursing employees can file a discrimination charge at the Delaware Department of Labor within 120 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice.

Break Obligations for Minor Employees in Delaware

In addition to federal regulations, Delaware has specific rules and guidelines for Child Labor Law. Despite minor employees aged 14 to 15 and those aged 16 to 17 having different provisions, all minor employees are entitled to at least 30 minutes of meal breaks for every 5 consecutive hours of work.

Rest Day Requirements in Delaware

In Delaware, there are no state laws that require employers to provide a specific number of rest days per week for their employees. However, employers are required to follow the federal regulations outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that mandate overtime pay and rest periods for non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

In addition, specific industries or employers may have provisions for rest days established by collective bargaining agreements.

Learn more about Delaware Overtime 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 to 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 from the use of this guide.