Time Keeping Break Rules

Employment break rules, also known as rest break rules, are regulations that govern the rights of employees to take breaks during their working hours. These rules vary depending on the country and specific labor laws in place.

Key Takeaways

  • Meal Breaks: Some states in the US, like California and Colorado, have specific requirements for meal breaks during shifts. Workers must be given a certain duration (e.g., 30 minutes uninterrupted) meal break if their shift exceeds a certain duration (e.g., more than 5 hours). Penalties may apply if the meal break is not provided.
  • Rest Breaks: California, for example, mandates a 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours worked in a day. Rest break violations may result in penalties, but WorkN functionality does not track or calculate rest break penalties automatically.
  • Penalties: Break penalties, such as for meal break violations, are typically calculated based on the worker's hourly wage. For instance, in California, a worker may be entitled to an additional hour of premium pay for each day a break violation occurs. Penalties are often expressed in increments of hours worked.

Meal Break Requirements

Some US states, including California and Colorado, enforce mandatory meal breaks for workers during their shifts. Employers must provide a designated duration (e.g., 30 minutes uninterrupted) for the meal break. If the shift exceeds a specific duration (e.g., more than 5 hours), workers must be compensated with a penalty if they do not receive the required meal break.

Varying State Rules: Meal break regulations can differ between states, although multiple states may have similar mandates. These rules are subject to change based on state or federal laws, court interpretations, and individual employer policies. Some employers may apply stricter interpretations of the rules compared to others.

Rest Break Requirements:

Certain states, such as California, require workers to have a 10-minute rest break if they work over 3.5 hours. Additionally, workers are entitled to a rest break for every 4 hours worked within a workday.

  • WorkN Functionality: Rest breaks and associated penalties for violations are not tracked or automatically calculated by WorkN functionality. If a rest break violation occurs, users can manually add a penalty to the worker's time record.


Penalties for break violations are usually determined by the worker's hourly wage. In California, for instance, a worker may receive an extra hour of "premium pay" for each day a break violation happens. Premium pay encompasses the worker's base pay along with other components like commissions, bonuses, and piecework earnings. In the context of WorkN functionality, penalties will be expressed in terms of hours worked.

Second Meal Breaks

Certain states require a second meal break for shifts exceeding a specific duration, such as 8 hours. If workers do not receive the mandated second meal break, they are entitled to a penalty payment.

Waiving Meal Breaks

In select states, if a worker's shift duration is less than 6 hours, the worker and employer can mutually agree to waive the meal break without incurring a penalty.

  • In the context of WorkN functionality, the waiver of meal breaks will be managed by manually adjusting the worker's time record.

Meal Break Blackouts

In certain states, a break taken during the initial or final hours of a shift does not fulfill the requirement for a meal break.

Work day vs. Shift 

While states generally enforce meal break rules based on a "work day," WorkN functionality evaluates break rules on a per-shift basis rather than considering multiple shifts within a work day.

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