Ohio Lunch and Break Law Requirements

Recently, I’ve been researching state lunch and break laws, as well as other work-hour related issues. In Ohio, the state law only regulates the meal breaks for employees under the age of 18. State law mandates that minors under age 18 be given a 30 minute meal break if they have worked five hours or more. This may be an unpaid break.

While Ohio law does not have any lunch and break provisions for workers 16 and over, residents of the state should know that they are covered by several federal regulations.

Federal law does not mandate any specific meal or rest breaks. It does, however, give guidance as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times. Short breaks (usually 20 minutes or less) should be counted as hours worked. True “meal periods” are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be paid as work time. During an unpaid meal break, a worker must be completely free of his or her work duties. 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 regulations 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 circumstances.

If an employee is at the workplace and allowed to do something of his or her choosing while waiting for one task to be finished or for another to begin, it is generally considered paid work time. A common example of this might be a fire fighter reading a book at the station while waiting for fire calls. On the other hand, if an employee is “on call” at home or elsewhere and waiting to be called upon, it is not generally considered paid work time. For this to be the case the employee must also have great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call and have plenty of time to respond to the calls.

When it comes to travel time, the principle to observe 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.

Another final issue of interest may be 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 subtracted 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.

A listing of state and federal regulations relating to lunch and break law may be found on the Ohio Complete Labor Law Poster. This poster also features information on all other state and federal labor law requirements.

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58 Thoughts on “Ohio Lunch and Break Law Requirements”

Matthew

April 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I am a employer in Iowa. Do I have to allow an employee to use a company vehicle to go purchase his or her lunch. Note: I currently do allow it, but would like to limit the miles allowed to drive to the employees desired location. Also, this only applies to when they are on location and don’t have access to their personal vehicle. Thank You

Amelia

April 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Hi Matthew! Can you give us a few more details? If the employee is a truck driver, the best practice is to allow him to stop at some point to take his lunch break at a restaurant or buy food at a convenience store.

Many employers limit the number of miles the employee can drive off their route, to go to lunch. For example, driving 60 miles to lunch would not be acceptable. Many employers would find driving 20 miles total for lunch acceptable. Others accomplish this simply by limiting the lunch period. At 60 miles per hour, the employee is not going to be able to drive more than 30 miles in a 30-minute meal period.

There is no law that you must provide a vehicle for the employee to travel to and from lunch. However, if employees do not know in advance when or where they will be sent to work, then you are basically saying that they have to pack a sack lunch every day. That policy seems harsh, and is not going to be very popular.

If you can tell us a little more about the situation and the type of work, and the restrictions you propose, we have give a more specific answer. Will there always be a choice of quick-service restaurants and convenience stores nearby the work location? Factors like this are important. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

anthony robinson

April 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

I work 24 hours on Saturday and 10 hours on Monday and Tuesday only get paid for 40 hours. I get 8 Hours rest time on Saturday but can not leave premises and rest time can and is interrupted.Should I be paid for the full 24 hours and should the 4 hours be paid over time? There is also someone that works the same type shift but for 24hours on Sunday,10 hours Thursday and Friday.

Amelia

April 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Hi anthony! Sorry, but we would need a lot more information to answer your question. As you know, generally employees are entitled to overtime after 40 hours under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act. However, certain occupations like home health care workers are excluded from those requirements. So are exempt salaried employees, who are paid a straight salary regardless of how many hours they work.

You don’t mention why the employer says you are entitled to payment for only 40 hours, and that would be significant information. Are they deducting for four 60-minute meal breaks? If so, do you actually get to take the meal breaks undisturbed? Are they deducting for a rest period?

If you can post more information about the type of work and any breaks, we can give a more specific reply. Otherwise, if you do not find the information you need in the links below, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov. If they cannot help, contact the Ohio Department of Labor at http://www.com.ohio.gov/laws/HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Read more about hours worked at:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.htm
http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs25.htm
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/scope/screen9.asp
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/hoursworked/default.asp
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/overtime.htm

anthony

April 4, 2011 at 6:53 am

The employer gives us 8 hours rest time but it can be and it is interrupted most of the time.we only get 30 min lunch break and that can be interruoted also. they are not deducting for 60 minute meal breaks. Yes they are deducting for a rest period,but it can and is often interrupted. Thank You

Amelia

April 4, 2011 at 9:51 am

Hi anthony! But the employer is not deducting for 8 hours of rest time, plus three 30-minute meal breaks. They would be deducting a total of 9.5 hours, but they are not. They are deducting a total of 4 hours. Maybe they are deducting for a 4-hour rest break on the 24-hour shift?

If they were deducting for 8 hours of rest time plus breaks, you would only be paid for 34.5 hours when you are scheduled for 44 hours. Again, you do not say what industry you are in. If it is in home health care, the federal minimum wage and overtime laws do not apply.

Your best bet is to contact the U.S. or Ohio department of labor so they can ask questions, and you can respond with all the information they need. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Gerry Greenberg

June 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

The absence of labor laws mandating lunch and breaks is an abomination. No one should be required to work more than a couple of hours straight without a rest room break. The only remedy for this situation is for workers to unionize and force employers to agree to these fundamental human rights. It’s more than apparent that employers will not grant such benefits out of the goodness of their hearts. For younger workers, it might be educational to learn that there was a time in this country when union contracts mandated lunch and breaks, and workers were occasionally paid during those periods, even in the private sector.

Kelly

July 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

Gerry, I’m with you. It sickens me that prison inmates are treated with more dignity and respect than the average worker. My mom works for an employer who makes her work 12 to 14 hours without breaks or lunches although, they do allow her to use the rest room. When she questioned them about eating they told her she could eat while she works. The problem is she works in a warehouse handling newspapers and it is disgustingly filthy out there and definitely a health hazard. They are also calling her in on her day off and they don’t “ask” they tell her to be there. So, she can’t have a life or any rest time out side of this job. I don’t agree with your Union theory. There’s too many ways that can go wrong. I think if we want things to change we’re going to have to address it at a legislative level.

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