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Meal Periods and Rest Breaks – Are You Hungry for Some Knowledge?

Posted in Highlight, Human Resources (HR) Compliance, Laws and Regulations, Manager & HR Pro’s Resource Center

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court came out with a long-awaited (at least to employment lawyers) decision regarding meal periods and rest breaks.

Although the case isn’t directly applicable in Connecticut, it offers some comparable wisdom on how employers can deal with such breaks here in Connecticut. The holdings of that case have been cited in a good recap by Molly Dibianca here which I won’t repeat here. 

In Connecticut , meal periods are covered by Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51ii.

That law has a few requirements:

  • If a person is requierd to work 7 1/2 consecutive hours, they must be given a minimum of a 30 minutes for a meal. 
  • That meal period has to occur after the first 2 hours of work and before the end of the last 2 hours. 

But there are exemptions to that general rule.  Employers can be exempted by the Labor Commissioner if:

  • requiring compliance would be adverse to public safety,
  • the duties of a position may only be performed by one employee,
  • the employer employs less than five employees on a shift at a single place of business provided the exemption shall only apply to the employees on such shift, or
  • the continuous nature of an employer’s operations, such as chemical production or research experiments, requires that employees be available to respond to urgent or unusual conditions at all times and such employees are compensated for break and meal periods.

Unlike California, employers are merely subject to civil penalties for violating this rule.   

Notably, Connecticut does not require employers to provide rest breaks, according to the Department of Labor

 For other rules in the workplace, check out this post from way back in 2009. 

Meal breaks are probably an overlooked area of compliance for employers, but double-checking your own rules to ensure compliance can be less headache for employers.

(And, on a related note, if you are looking for a good cheap lunch break meal, you could do a lot worse than banh mi.)