Lunch and Break Law Governing Nebraska

In researching current lunch and break laws in various states, I learned that Nebraska is one of 19 states that has a specific regulation in this area. If a Nebraska employee in certain types of industries has worked at least eight consecutively in a given day, he or she must be given a 30 minute unpaid break. This meal break must allow the worker to be completely relieved of his or her duties. The employer also may not require that employees remain inside the building or on the workplace premises during this break.

I found it interesting that the state law only specifies that the regulation only applies to certain industries. These breaks are only mandated for employees working in assembling plants, workshops or “mechanical establishments.” It also doesn’t apply in workplaces where a collective bargaining agreement sets out other arrangements.

Nebraska law does not specifically provide for any other breaks during the workday other than this 30 minute unpaid meal period. However, if employers do wish to give short breaks to workers during the day, Federal law states that these must be paid breaks if they are 20 minutes or less in length.

Finally, there are some work-hour issues found in federal law related to sleep time, waiting time, and travel time that Nebraskans may be interested in. 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.

Then there 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.

When it comes to sleeping time, an employee 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 facilities are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.

A complete presentation of federal and state laws related to lunches and breaks, as well as all other labor issues, can be found on the Nebraska Complete Labor Law Poster.

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7 Thoughts on “Lunch and Break Law Governing Nebraska”


August 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Not sure if this worth askings but I work in retail and there is some days when I work 14 hour shifts and really have no lunch break its preferred we only take 20 min on clock break for a lunch and are not allowed to leave the store at all when doing these shifts just curious if is completely legal?


August 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hi xeroxeddevil! Unfortunately, this is completely legal in Nebraska. In fact, the employer could require that you work 14 hours without any meal or rest break at all, in Nebraska. They could also let you take the 20 minute meal break, but not pay you for it. There is no requirement that the employee be allowed to leave the store, even for an unpaid meal break. These are tough working conditions, but your best bet is to bring a lunch from home. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia


December 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I work at a tire shop and I don’t get breaks or a lunch.lastweek I worked a 13 hour day with no breaks or lunch I’m not worried about the breaks I just want to get a there anything I can do about this?


December 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hi brent! Yes, a Nebraska employer is required to give you a 30-minute lunch break, off the premises, between 12 noon and 1 pm or at another suitable time. Thsi law includes only a few indistries, but mechanics shops are one of them. We ar ehoping that will include a tire shop. Contact the Nebraska Department of Labor Regulations, Division of Labor Standards at (scroll down the page for the phone number) to file a complaint. HTH, and thanks for reaidng the blogs!~ Amelia


March 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I have been working 9 plus hours for the last week and havebt been able to take a lunch due to there is nobody to relieve me of my duties and i pulled up my time sheet in our system and my manager has altered all of my time and took out 1 hour lunches plus clocked my out almost 2 hours earlier then when i clocked out that night Can he just dedecut up to 3 hours off my check when i was working those 3 hours and he is doing so he doesnt have to pay me any overtime what can i do


March 18, 2011 at 6:57 am

Hi zach! Obviously this is illegal. Both the Nebraska and federal minimum wage laws require that an employee be paid for all the time he works. The federal overtime law, the FLSA, requires that an employee be paid overtime when working more than 40 hours per week. Even if you worked these hours without the employer’s permission, you are entitled to payment for them. Just to be on the safe side, write down the hours you actually worked and keep that information at home.

You should tactfully approach your manager and mention that you noticed the inaccuracy in your time sheet. Let him know that you actually worked those hours (apparently because the business is understaffed) and legally you must be paid for them. Listen to his response and don’t argue. If the time is not on your paycheck, file a wage complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor at They will investigate. They can pull the company’s payroll records, including the times you punched and the changes the employer made. If the DOL finds you are owed money, they will force the employer to pay. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a wage complaint in good faith. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia


October 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Several of the staff that I work with would prefer to work a straight 8 hour shift to ‘shorten’ our work day. Is there any regulation that requires staff to take a meal break? We do work in a manufacturing facility and are given generous breaks on the clock.

Thanks in advance for the help.


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