For many people, taking a break is a necessary relief from the stress of the workday. Whether the break is 5, 30 or 60 minutes, you should not have to worry about working during that time or otherwise catering to your employer when you are off the clock. Unfortunately, however, this is a common occurrence. It happens in industrial environments, offices and other types of workplaces.
According to The Balance, the Department of Labor does not impose any laws regarding breaks, which means that it is typically a state-specific issue. If you are working through breaks and not getting payment for it, these are a few things you should be aware of.
Worked breaks affect overtime
If you have found yourself regularly working through your breaks, whether it is of your own volition or at the request of your employer, this time may be eligible for overtime wages. If you work a cumulative 40 hours, five days a week and take hour-long breaks each day, for example, you could be missing out on five hours of overtime pay each week.
Work interactions must be de minimus
If you take your break in the lunch room or stay at your desk, you might be used to having colleagues approach you with questions and requests. It is important to know when such interactions constitute work. Typically, if you put in de minimus effort (meaning you do not move or perform any task), this does not qualify as work.
Your break is your responsibility
At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to take any breaks your employer schedules for you. If your breaks do not come with a regular schedule, it is your responsibility to make an honest effort to take them. If your employer demands that you perform work-related duties during this time, then you have a problem that may necessitate legal action.