Taking breaks from work is not only vital for the well-being of employees but also essential for maintaining a productive and healthy work environment.
This comprehensive guide will explore the legal requirements for breaks in Florida, including meal breaks, rest breaks, and breastfeeding breaks, address the implications of federal laws, discuss the consequences of violating such laws, and highlight the key rights and obligations of both employers and employees.
This article covers:
- Type of Breaks Offered in Florida
- Breastfeeding Breaks in Florida
- Meal and Break Period Regulations for Minors in Florida
- Breaks for Florida Employees Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Consequences of Violating Meal and Rest Break Rules in Florida
- Denying Meal or Rest Breaks in Florida
In Florida, employers are not required by state law or federal law to provide their employees with any rest breaks through the workday or during the 8-hour shift.
Additionally, meal breaks, for adult employees, are also not mandated according to the law.
However, employers and employees may come to a mutual agreement about creating rest intervals that last anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, which are subsequently recognized as paid time.
Employees are not entitled to compensation for meal breaks, otherwise referred to as bona fide meal periods, as they are not regarded as working hours.
These breaks often last for at least 30 minutes. However, employees who need to eat while working, such as a receptionist on phone duty, will be compensated for the time spent eating.
It’s worth noting that while Florida does not require work permits for minors, it does regulate other aspects of child labor, such as working hours, breaks, and other related policies.
Florida law says that all kids under 18 who work for more than four hours straight must get a 30-minute break for lunch, whether they are in school or not.
If you want to know more about the entitlements of salaried and hourly employees, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Florida, and your rights as an hourly employee in Florida.
Although mothers have the legal right to breastfeed their babies in both public or private places in Florida and nursing mothers are protected from public indecency laws, there are no specific state laws regarding breastfeeding in the workplace.
However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide nursing mothers with a reasonable break time and a separate room for expressing milk at work which should not be a bathroom.
In Florida, individuals aged 17 or younger are considered minors in the workforce. The state’s labor laws have specific provisions regarding breaks for minors to ensure their well-being and compliance with employment regulations.
According to Florida labor laws, minors are prohibited from working more than four consecutive hours without an unpaid meal period break.
The meal break time for minors must be at least 30 consecutive minutes, and it should be uninterrupted by work tasks. It is important to note that the break cannot be divided into smaller intervals.
In addition to the meal period mandated by Florida break time laws, minors are also entitled to a 10-minute break for every four hours worked.
There are certain exceptions to these minor protections under Florida labor laws. Minors may not be entitled to mandatory breaks if they fall under the following circumstances:
- Possess a GED or have graduated from high school.
- Hold a Certificate of Exemption issued by the school district superintendent.
- Engage in private domestic service, work as a Florida Senate Page (FL legislature page), or are employed by their parents.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not explicitly state that employees are entitled to breaks, it does mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities to fulfill their essential job duties.
Here are instances where periodic breaks may qualify as reasonable accommodations:
- An employee with a pain disorder may require intermittent breaks to relieve discomfort after a few hours of work.
- An employee who uses medical equipment, like a brace, may need breaks at regular intervals throughout the day for necessary adjustments.
- An employee may require private breaks to administer prescription medications or injections, such as those necessary for managing diabetes.
With the exception of minors under 18 years old, employers in Florida have the authority to deny breaks to their employees.
However, if an employer offers a rest break or mandates work during a scheduled meal break, employees must be paid for that time as it is considered part of their workday.
Failure to provide proper compensation during breaks can result in employees filing a complaint for wage and hour violations, and seeking restitution for unpaid wages.
As per the details above, in most cases, it is unlikely that employees can sue their employer specifically for failing to provide meal or rest breaks in Florida.
The state’s employment laws do not directly require employers to offer these breaks to their employees.
However, it is important to note that the refusal to provide breaks may indirectly violate other protections of the employee allowing for lawsuits on different grounds.
Here are a few individual scenarios of employees for whom the denial of breaks could potentially be considered a law violation:
- Non-exempt minors who are not granted breaks every four hours.
- Nursing mothers who are denied breaks to express milk.
- Disabled employees working for non-exempt businesses who are denied breaks that would qualify as reasonable accommodations.
In these specific situations, the employer’s actions may potentially violate other legal provisions, and the employee may have grounds for legal action.
It is advisable to consult with a legal professional to assess the specific circumstances and determine the best course of action.
Learn more about Florida 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.