Virginia Break Laws

January 19th 2024

Break periods play a crucial role in establishing a positive work environment, boosting productivity, and safeguarding the rights of workers.

In the state of Virginia, laws have been put in place to define the rights of employees and the responsibilities of employers concerning the provision of adequate breaks while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of break laws in Virginia, offering insights into regulations pertaining to meal breaks, rest breaks, waiting time, and other relevant provisions.

This article covers:

Break and Rest Period in Virginia

Employers are not legally required to provide breaks for their employees in Virginia, except for minors aged 14-15 who are entitled to 30-minute meal breaks for every 5-hour shift. 

However, many employers voluntarily choose to offer rest and meal breaks as a means to enhance productivity.

It is important to note that breastfeeding mothers have the right to a lactation break, which will be further elaborated upon in the following section.

Pay for Meal Break in Virginia

Although work breaks are not legally mandated in Virginia, employers who choose to offer such breaks must follow certain guidelines.

If an employer’s policy includes breaks that are under 20 minutes in duration, those breaks must be compensated. 

Longer breaks beyond 20 minutes are typically at the discretion of the employer.

Breastfeeding Breaks in Virginia

Virginia state law mandates that employers must provide suitable conditions for mothers who are nursing and return to work to accommodate their breastfeeding needs.

Specifically, employers are required to offer a private area for nursing that is not a bathroom stall.

This designated space should be conveniently located near the employee’s work area. Whether the break is paid or unpaid depends on the policies of the employer.

Meal and Break Period Regulations for Minors in Virginia

According to Virginia law, it is prohibited to employ or allow a child to work for more than five consecutive hours without providing a minimum thirty-minute lunch break.

It should be noted that a break of less than thirty minutes will not be considered sufficient to interrupt the continuous work period

Rest Day Laws in Virginia

Unlike some states that have labor regulations mandating workday rest periods for employees, the government of Virginia does not have such regulations in place.

Consequently, in Virginia, the decision to provide breaks or rest periods to employees is entirely at the discretion of the employer.

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

Breaks for Virginia Employees Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act

Disabled employees in Virginia are protected by both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Virginians with Disabilities Act (VDA), while federal government employees, contractors, and those in programs receiving federal funds are protected by the Rehabilitation Act. 

Although these laws do not explicitly require breaks, they do mandate that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees without imposing undue burdens on the employers.

In certain circumstances, federal courts in Virginia have acknowledged that providing short breaks to disabled employees can fulfill the obligation of offering a reasonable accommodation. 

It is important to note that the necessity for breaks may vary depending on the specific disability, as different accommodations may be required. It is not automatic for disabled employees to receive additional breaks, but in specific cases, a break period could be considered a reasonable accommodation.

Learn more about Virginia 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.