Maryland Break Laws

January 8th 2024

Maryland’s break laws are designed to protect the rights and well-being of employees by establishing clear guidelines.

These laws ensure that workers have adequate time to rest, recharge, and attend to personal needs during their work hours.

In this article, we will explore the key provisions of break laws in Maryland, including requirements for meal breaks, shift breaks, break entitlement, record-keeping, and other related considerations.

This article covers:

What are the Types of Breaks offered in Maryland?

In Maryland, generally, there are no state regulations for regular employee breaks except for employed minors who are eligible for a 30-minute break for every 5 consecutive hours worked.

However, employers must adhere to federal laws on break time.

If employees work through their mealtime, they must be compensated and if they are given a meal break without any work, it does not need to be paid.

Maryland Breaks under the Healthy Retail Employee Act (Shift Break Law)

While there are no break requirements for regular employees in Maryland, since March 2011, the Maryland Department of Labor has enforced the Healthy Retail Employee Act, which requires employers of retail establishments with 50 or more employees and operating for 20 or more calendar weeks to provide unpaid breaks to their employees who primarily sell goods to customers on-premises, with the exclusion of restaurant or wholesalers.

It’s worth noting that if the employer franchise owner with multiple locations, then they must consider all employees across their various establishments within the state as part of their employee number.

The duration and frequency of the breaks depend on the length and consecutive hours of the work shift.

Shift Break Entitlement Per Hours Worked under the Healthy Retail Employee Act (Shift Break Law)

Under the Healthy Retail Employee Act (Shift Break Law), certain retail employees (as mentioned above) in Maryland are entitled to breaks based on their worked hours as follows:

  • It is mandatory for such employees to be given a 15-minute break when they work for 4-6 consecutive hours.
  • Such employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break when their shift exceeds 6 consecutive hours
  • If such an employee works 8 or more consecutive hours, the employer is required to provide a 30-minute meal break, as well as an additional 15-minute break for every additional 4 consecutive hours worked.

It’s important to note that:

  • The 15-minute break requirement for employees working less than 6 consecutive hours can be waived if there is a written agreement between the employer and the employee.
  • Further, if an employee is entitled to a 30-minute break, they are not eligible for the additional 15-minute break.
  • Finally, the count for additional consecutive hours starts after the employee’s previous break. For instance, if an employee works a 10-hour shift and takes a 30-minute break at the 5th hour, they would be entitled to a 15-minute break at the 9th hour.

Exceptions to Maryland Break Entitlement under the Healthy Retail Employee Act (Shift Break Law)

While employees in certain retail establishments (as mentioned above) are eligible for non-working shift breaks based on the duration of their work hours, there are exemptions to this requirement. These include:

  • Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement or other employment policy that provides equal or longer break durations are exempt.
  • Additionally, employees who are exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), such as executive, administrative, and professional employees, as well as outside sales workers and commissioned sales employees of retail or service establishments, are also exempt.
  • State employees, employees of county or municipal governments, employees in corporate or office locations, and employees working at a single location with five or fewer employees for at least 4 consecutive hours are exempt as well.

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

Record-keeping Requirements relating to Break Time in Maryland under the HREA (Shift Break Law)

In Maryland, employers are already obligated to keep records of employees’ working hours and schedules.

In addition to this existing requirement, employers must now also maintain records specifically documenting employee breaks under Shift Break Law.

This is crucial for ensuring adherence to the law and demonstrating compliance.

Violation of Employees Break Entitlements in Maryland under Shift Break Law

If an employee believes that their rights have been violated under the Shift Break law, they have the option to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. 

The necessary Complaint of violation of the Healthy Retail Employee Act form can be downloaded from the official website. For any inquiries, the Employment Standards Service can be contacted. 

Once a complaint is received, the Commissioner will conduct an investigation and attempt to resolve the issue through informal means. 

If the Commissioner determines that the employer has indeed violated the Shift Break law, they have the authority to issue an order for compliance, which may include imposing a civil penalty. 

In such cases, the employer has the right to appeal the order to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Maryland

In Maryland, there are no specific regulations regarding breaks for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. 

However, federal laws apply to protect hourly employees under the FLSA. These laws include providing a private nursing room (not a bathroom) and a reasonable break time, as decided by the employer. 

Employers must inform employees of their rights and obligations and post notices in accessible areas, unless they have less than 50 employees. 

If finding proper accommodations poses significant difficulties to the business, they may be exempt from providing a separate room. 

Learn more about Maryland 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.