The Maryland Healthy Retail Employee Act is the state’s first law requiring meal and rest breaks for workers in certain occupations. The law went into effect on March 1, 2011 and covers retail stores with 50 or more workers. It does not cover restaurants or wholesale dealers. The law also excludes mail-order or Internet sales businesses when more than 50% of sales occur without the customer physically present in the store.
The law also requires shorter 15-minute breaks under some conditions. A Maryland retail employee who works a shift of 4 to 6 hours is entitled to a non-working break of at least 15 minutes, but is not entitled to a 30-minute break.
An employee who works 8 or more hours must be given the 30-minute break plus a non-working break of 15 minutes for every four additional consecutive hours. For example, an employee who works 16 consecutive hours must be given the 30-minute break, plus two 15-minute non-working breaks.
Under the federal FLSA, employees are entitled to payment for any break that is less than 20 minutes, so the 15-minute breaks must be paid.
Corporate employees or office employees who do not work on the sales floor are not included in the total number of employees. A company that had 49 sales clerks and one office manager would not be covered by the law. However, stores that have several locations must count all the employees in the state to determine if they have 50 retail employees.
The new break law is enforced by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation or DLLR, with fines starting at $300 per employee.
There are two exceptions under the new Maryland break law:
1. When an employee works less than 6 consecutive hours, the break can be waived under a mutual agreement between the employee and employer. The agreement must be in writing, and the employee can withdraw permission at any time. The law does not permit breaks to be waived on a shift of 6 hours or more.
2. When the type of work prevents the employee from being relieved of all duties, the break may be waived as long as employees are allowed to consume a meal while on duty, and are paid for that time. This arrangement must also be mutually agreed to by both the employee and employer, in writing. For example, in a busy location, this law might apply. Employees must be allowed to consume a meal on duty, and paid for that time, but need not be relieved of all duties during the breaks.
The law also excludes locations with fewer than 5 employees onsite. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are excluded. Any employer with a company policy that gives more generous breaks can continue that policy.
Last 10 posts by Cara
- Updated New York Reporting Requirements - April 6th, 2011
- Guidelines for Rehiring Workers - March 9th, 2011
- Supreme Court Redefines Retaliation - February 25th, 2011
- New California and Federal Labor Law Posters - February 11th, 2011
- New York Increases Tipped Minimum Wage to $5.00 - February 2nd, 2011
- Health Care Reform Nondiscrimination Delayed - January 21st, 2011
- Department of Labor Changes Will Result in More FLSA Lawsuits - January 7th, 2011
- 2011 Minimum Wage Requirement Recap - Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Washington - December 22nd, 2010
- Missouri 2011 Minimum Wage Still $7.25 - December 10th, 2010
- Washington Minimum Wage is $8.67 in 2011 - December 3rd, 2010