Must My Company Give Meal Breaks To Its Employees In New York?

This blog post discusses the meal breaks and breaks to express breast milk which an employer in New York State must provide to its adult employees.  For rules limiting the hours of work of minors (that is, persons less than 18 years of age) in New York, see this author's December 8, 2010 blog post.

Time Permitted For Meals

New York State law requires companies to allow employees to take certain time off for meals.  It is the New York State Department of Labor's position that these meal break requirements apply to all employees, including white-collar management staff.

New York requires that every person employed in or in connection with a factory be allowed at least 60 minutes for "the noon day meal," popularly known as lunch.  N.Y. Labor Law  § 162(1).

Employees in establishments other than factories are allowed at least 30 minutes for the noon day meal.  N.Y. Labor Law § 162(2).

The noon day meal period extends from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.  An employee who works a shift of more than six hours, which extends over the noon day meal period, is entitled to at least 30 minutes off within that period for the meal period.  N.Y. Labor Law § 162(2).

Every individual whose working hours or shift begins before 11:00 A.M. and ends later than 7:00 P.M. is entitled to a break of at least 20 minutes for dinner between 5:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M.  N.Y. Labor Law § 162(3).

Every factory worker employed for a period or shift of more than six hours beginning between 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. must be allowed 60 minutes for a meal period.   Every non-factory worker employed for a period or shift of more than six hours beginning between 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. must be allowed 45 minutes for a meal period.  For both factory and non-factory workers, this meal period is to be at a time midway between the beginning and end of the worker's period or shift.   N.Y. Labor Law § 162(4).

Employers may apply for permission from the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor to fix a shorter time for meal periods than is stated above.  If such a permit is granted, it must be posted conspicuously in the main entrance of the establishment.  N.Y. Labor Law § 162(5).

An employer may, without applying for permission from the Commissioner, set a meal period of not less than 30 minutes as long as there is no indication of hardship to employees.  Meal periods ranging from 20 minutes to 29 minutes require a special permit, and are allowed only in special or unusual cases.

Right Of Nursing Mothers To Have Breaks To Express Breast Milk In The Workplace

Businesses in New York must provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years after childbirth.  N.Y. Labor Law § 206-c.

The company must make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, where an employee can express breast milk in privacy.  N.Y. Labor Law § 206-c.

New York prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who expresses breast milk in the workplace.  N.Y. Labor Law § 206-c.

Call the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC at (212) 209-3972 to speak with a knowledgeable labor and employment lawyer about ensuring that your company complies with overtime pay and other wage and hour laws, or to retain a skilled overtime attorney to defend your company in unpaid overtime lawsuits or other wage and hour litigation.

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