Can I Be Denied a Work or Lunch Break?

Work and lunch breaks are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, increasing productivity. However, not all New Jersey employees know their rights regarding these breaks. In New Jersey, no specific laws require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to their employees. However, the state does have some regulations for minors (those under 18 years of age). Minors working more than five hours are entitled to a 30-minute meal break.

Despite the lack of specific break laws for adult employees, ‚ÄĆfederal regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may apply. The FLSA states that if an employer chooses to provide a break of 20 minutes or less, they must pay the employee for that time. If the employer provides a meal break at least 30 minutes long, the employer is not required to pay the employee during that break as long as they are completely relieved from their duties.

Common Reasons Employers Deny Breaks

There are several reasons why an employer might deny an employee their breaks. These can include:

  • Lack of awareness: Some employers may not know break and meal period regulations.
  • High-pressure work environment: Employers may prioritize productivity over employee well-being and deny breaks to maintain workflow.
  • Short-staffing: Employers may be unable to provide breaks due to a lack of available staff to cover those breaks.

What if My Employer Denies Breaks?

If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is denying breaks, consider the following tips:

  • Communicate with your employer: Discuss your concerns with your employer or supervisor. They may be unaware of the regulations or the importance of breaks for employee well-being.
  • Know your rights: Educate yourself on the applicable laws and regulations surrounding work breaks and lunch breaks in New Jersey. This knowledge will help you advocate for your rights.
  • Identify potential solutions: Work with your employer to identify ways to ensure employees receive their breaks. This could include adjusting schedules, hiring additional staff, or implementing a break policy.

Taking Action if Your Break Rights Are Still Being Denied

If, despite your efforts, your employer continues to deny breaks, there are several steps you can take:

  • File a complaint with the Department of Labor: You can file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to report your employer’s violation of break regulations. The Department will investigate your claim and may take action against your employer if they are found to be non-compliant.
  • Seek legal assistance: If your employer does not comply with the law, you may want to consult an employment lawyer to discuss your options. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and advise you on the best action.
  • Contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA is responsible for ensuring workplace safety. If you believe that your employer’s denial of breaks is causing a hazardous work environment, you can file a complaint with OSHA.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Help Protect Your Workplace Rights

You have legal rights at work, even if your employer tries to violate them. If you are not being given your break and lunch times, speak with our South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.