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BREAKS

(TITLE 26: LABOR AND INDUSTRY; CHAPTER 7 - EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES: SUBCHAPTER I-A: HOURS OF EMPLOYMENT; SECTION 601)

Federal law does not require a rest break. However, they are customarily given. If rest breaks are brief, running 20 minutes or less, for example, the time must be counted as hours worked. But if it's a bona fide meal period during the scheduled workday, it's not considered work time under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the employer need not pay. Generally, employees need not be paid for meal periods of 30 minutes or more if they are completely freed from all work requirements during that period. If the meal periods are frequently interrupted by calls to duty, the employee cannot be considered as having been relieved of all duties.

State law does require an opportunity for a rest break (unpaid) for employees working more than six hours. The law reads as follows: In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement or other written employer-employee agreement providing otherwise, an employee, as defined in section 663, may be employed or permitted to work for no more than 6 consecutive hours at one time unless he is given the opportunity to take at least 30 consecutive minutes of rest time, except in cases of emergency in which there is danger to property, life, public safety or public health. This rest time may be used by the employee as a mealtime. [1985, c. 212 (new).] Maine Department of Labor says that the employee can refuse the break if this is mutually agreed upon. It is advisable to document this mutual agreement. FULL TEXT OF THE LAW.

Release Date: 1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM