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FLSA Hours Worked Advisor


Breaks from 5 to 20 minutes must be counted as hours worked.

Even though they are not required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, if an employer permits employees to take breaks, they must be counted as hours worked. This includes short periods the employee is allowed to spend away from the work site for any reason.

For example:

  • smoke breaks,
  • restroom breaks,
  • personal telephone calls or visits, or
  • to get coffee or soft drinks, etc.

Note, however, that your employer need not count unauthorized extensions of authorized breaks as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously advised you that the break may only last for a specific length of time and that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer's rules and will be punished.

To determine whether a break of more than 20 minutes is hours worked, or for more information on breaks in general, please contact your local Wage and Hour District Office. You may also wish to contact your state department of labor for information concerning state laws.