Iowa State Break Laws

January 8th 2024

Break laws are of paramount importance in creating a favorable work environment, enhancing productivity, and upholding the rights of workers.

In the state of Iowa, specific laws have been enacted to outline the rights of employees and the obligations of employers when it comes to providing appropriate breaks while adhering to legal requirements.

This article seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of break laws in Iowa, offering insights into regulations governing meal breaks, rest breaks, waiting time, and other pertinent provisions.

This article covers:


Meal Break and Rest Period in Iowa

There are no specific state-level regulations governing breaks for regular employees in Iowa. Consequently, employers in the state must comply with federal regulations on this matter. 

As per federal law, employers are not obligated to provide meal breaks to their employees. 

However, employers have the option to offer meal breaks if they choose to do so.

It is important to note that employers in Iowa have the right to require employees to remain on the business premises during their breaks. 

Further, employees must be allowed toilet breaks when needed.

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

Pay for Meal Break in Iowa

Although employers are not mandated by law to offer their adult employees meal breaks under federal law, if they choose to do so, they must follow certain guidelines. 

If a break lasts for 20 minutes or less, it is typically considered paid time, meaning that employees should be compensated for that period. However, if the break exceeds 20 minutes and the employee is completely relieved of job duties, it is typically treated as an unpaid meal break.

Meal and Break Period Regulations for Minors in Iowa

Break regulations in Iowa primarily pertain to minors employed by an employer. According to the Iowa child labor code, employees under the age of sixteen (16) who work for five (5) or more consecutive hours are entitled to a minimum thirty (30) minute meal period

However, Iowa does not have specific laws mandating meal periods or breaks for employees who are sixteen (16) years of age or older. In such cases, the federal rule applies, which does not require employers to provide meal periods or breaks.

Further, minors under the age of sixteen must be granted a thirty (30) minute break if they work for five hours or more in a day. Additionally, all employees, regardless of age, should be allowed toilet breaks as needed.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Iowa

Federal regulations regarding lactation in the workplace apply in Iowa. 

As such, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide break times for new mothers to express breast milk. 

Additionally, employers must ensure that a private space is available for nursing parents to nurse or pump milk, which should be free from interruptions and separate from colleagues. 

It is important to emphasize that this designated area cannot be a bathroom. 

However, there are two exceptions to this rule exempting employers from such obligations: if the employer has fewer than 50 employees or if the break time is during a suitable time, making it unpaid.

Breaks for Iowa Employees Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act

Although there are no specific break laws pertaining to breaks for employees with disabilities, in Iowa, employers have a responsibility to provide various accommodations.

These include ensuring that employee activities and facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities and making reasonable accommodations to enable employees with disabilities to engage in these activities. 

Additionally, individuals with disabilities should not be segregated in common use areas, such as break facilities and lunchrooms.

Learn more about Iowa 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.