State Lunch and Break Law Governing Florida

Recently, I’ve been reviewing the laws related to lunches, breaks and other work hour issues. I think it is interesting to note that Florida does not have any laws on the books specifically related to this area, except those pertaining to minors. Florida law requires that minors under age 18 must be given an uninterrupted meal or rest period of at least 30 minutes for each four hours they have continuously worked.

Although Florida does not have a lunch and break law for those persons 18 and over, there are applicable federal rules for Florida citizens. While Federal Law does not mandate specific breaks or meal periods, it does give guidance as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times. Short breaks are usually 20 minutes or less, and should be counted as hours worked. Genuine “meal periods” are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be compensated as work time. For this to be the case, however, the worker must be completely relieved of his or her duties during the meal break. If the employee is still required to do any duties (even minor duties such as answering a phone), it can’t be considered a meal or lunch period and must be paid.

Federal law also contains other provisions related to employee pay during times of waiting, sleeping and traveling. Whether or not waiting time needs to be considered paid work hours depends on the situation. If an employee is allowed to do something of his or her choosing while waiting for another task to be finished or while waiting at the workplace for his or her services to be called upon, it is generally considered work time. On the other hand, if an employee is waiting to be called upon, but has great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call (and has plenty of time to respond to the call), it is not generally considered paid work time.

When it comes to sleeping time, employees required to be on duty less than 24 hours is considered to be “working” even if he or she is permitted to sleep during some of those hours when not busy. If an employee is on duty more than 24 hours, a sleeping period of no more than eight hours may be deducted from work hours. However, this can only be done if sleeping quarters are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.

Finally, another issue I find comes up in the area of work hours is the issue of travel time. The general rule of thumb is that time spent in the normal day’s commute to and from work is not considered paid working time. However, if an employee is traveling in the course of a days work, it must be considered paid work time.

Complete information on the laws related to lunches, breaks and other pertinent labor issues can be found on the Florida Complete Labor Law Poster. This poster offers all the required postings for both federal and state labor laws.

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173 Thoughts on “State Lunch and Break Law Governing Florida”

December 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

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Karen DuPont

January 5, 2015 at 5:36 am

I work full time in downtown St. Pete FL and am required to “punch out” for the AM & PM break. I don’t think that is legal. Have worked many jobs in FL and never had to lose work time for a short break. Please reply

Sharon

January 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm

To respond to Karen, how long is your break? Because if it’s 15 mins you don’t need to clock out but if it’s more like about 30 mins you’ll need to clock out.
It’s differ with every job.

Joshua H

January 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Hello Karen, I have also been a victim of this and I also believe the cause for my issue is also discrimination. I have been working with a company for two months now, and recently I have been notified that I will need to start clocking out for fifteen minute breaks if I am going to leave the company premises to vape my electronic cigarette and/or get a snack at McDonalds due to (according to my immediate supervisor) “the company not being held liable for activities conducted off premises”. This seems illegal to me under the federal laws outlined in §785.18 under Title 29, Subtitle B, Chapter V, Subchapter B, Part 785, Subpart C.

January 12, 2015 at 2:37 am

My company tack on an hour overtime on your shift every week with a mandatory 5hours ot in the week, than on a 9 hour shift ask employees if they want to skip yheir lunch. So many employees do this. My question is, aren’t you still working 8hours without a lunch. And isn’t that illegal? I’ve seen this the whole time i was there.

kim bee

February 10, 2015 at 9:13 am

I work front desk at a hotel in deland fl. The shift is seven hours long.. do on qualify for a break at least 15 min; but thirty would be nice. Everyone else at hotel is given a break. Why any different for front desk ?

Mike N

February 11, 2015 at 8:21 pm

I find it ridiculous that the neither the DOL or the State of Florida require at least a 30 min break be given for an 8 hour day. My wife has to work a 13 hour shift and does not even get a 30 minute lunch break. What good is either agency if they cannot provide basic rights for workers like eating a meal during the day.

Mr M

February 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Not sure why so many people here seem to be unable to read the article. Florida has no break/lunch laws and therefore defaults to the federal law. The federal laws do not enforce any break or lunch rules but does provide guidance to the states… like “if breaks are provided, less than 20 min should be paid…”

zach

March 6, 2015 at 4:04 am

It’s unfortunate business really. I currently work 12 hours a day with one break. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a labor job. I have worked other labor jobs before and got a 15 minute break every 2 1/2 hours. It all depends on who you work for, but it isn’t mandatory in the state of Florida. It’s really quite sad that some companies still treat employees this way. Stuck in the industrial period i suppose.

Gloria Hiller

March 11, 2015 at 9:54 am

I work a 5 hour shift and get 2 five minute breaks Is this legal? .

Ted

March 12, 2015 at 7:56 am

Although florida does not mandate giving a lunch break, as an employer can you mandate that it must be taken

james

April 9, 2015 at 9:14 am

yea i work for ups here in Florida and sometimes i get 9 to 10 hour shifts with only a ten minute break is this legal

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May 17, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I used to work at a fast food restaurant. My former manager denied giving out breaks..and its also hard to take a five minute break because it gets busy sometimes. An employee cannot take a break even if he worked more then seven hours?

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Cindy

June 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Our employees take a 30 minute break for lunch daily. We have a couple employees who refuse to take lunch and then we pay them overtime.

By law do we have to pay the employee the overtime if they refuse to take the 30 minute lunch? Or by law can we deduct the overtime if it was not approved by the Supervisor?

Thanks,

Cindy
HR Director

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