OSHA Break Laws: What Are Lunch Break Laws in Texas? (2022)

osha lunch break laws

What are OSHA's Break Law Requirements for Workplaces?

OSHA's mission is to safeguard workers' safety and health. To date, they've never set requirements for meal or rest breaks because they don't consider it a workplace safety issue.

However, they do require employers to give workers the opportunity to drink water and go to the bathroom – and to have safe, sanitary facilities for both nearby.

As we've discussed before, OSHA requires employers to provide potable water. They don't explicitly require water breaks in the relevant standards, but the rules require "reasonable opportunities" and for the water to be "readily available." If your employer restricts drinking and eating to certain areas – which they're allowed to do – they're still required to give you "access."

The OSHA sanitation standard also requires workplaces to "allow employees prompt access to the bathroom facilities," which implies a requirement for bathroom breaks. Employers can require you to get coverage at your station first, use a bathroom key, or require a sign-in sheet, as long as access is still "reasonable and prompt."

There are no federal OSHA break laws related to the minimum length and frequency of bathroom and water breaks. In letters of interpretation, OSHA has said there are too many factors that influence these needs from individual to individual and that employers should be "flexible."

There are some state-level OSHA break laws in Washington State or California with more specific requirements tied to hydration and heat illness prevention in outdoor work. Our online Cal/OSHA course covers this and other California-specific standards!

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Is It Illegal To Not Give Employees Breaks?

Break laws at work depend largely on which state you live in.

While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates pay during breaks, the only explicit federal labor laws on break requirements are for nursing mothers.

Instead, it's regulated at the state level. There are 21 states (and 2 US territories) that require breaks for adults over the age of 18, although 35 jurisdictions have requirements that apply to minors.

There are no Texas lunch break laws 2022 for adults or minors. In fact, there's only one provision in Texas' labor laws for breaks. Employees are entitled to at least one 24-hour rest period every 7 days. This is fairly common labor law in many states.

Of course, many employers provide meal breaks and rest breaks without an explicit legal requirement. In some cases, breaks may be required due to standing labor union agreements. In other cases, break policies are designed to avoid liability under anti-discrimination laws.

The need for bathroom, water, rest, and meal breaks often depends on sex, gender identity, age, or disability, so the FLSA and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may apply in many cases. But since there are no explicit time and frequency minimums, lawsuits or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations are necessary to evaluate specific policies or instances.

Do Employers Have to Pay You During Breaks at Work?

By federal law, employers must pay you for any rest break under 20 minutes. According to the Department of Labor, short rest breaks are mutually beneficial because they improve productivity, so it's in the employer's best interest to provide and pay for them.

For longer breaks, the FLSA only requires employers to pay if employees still have duties or responsibilities during that time. If you're asked to cover the phones during lunch, voluntarily eat at your desk catching up, asked to shorten your lunch break, or remain "on call," that should be paid time.

To avoid violating break laws at work, employers should make sure to relieve employees of all responsibilities and require them to leave their workstations during longer breaks.

How Many Hours Can an Employee Work Without A Break?

What is the legal break for an 8-hour shift? How many breaks are in a 7-hour shift?

All of these questions have the same answer: it depends on your jurisdiction. Required rest breaks are more common than required meal breaks.

Federally, employers are required to give nursing mothers a 30-minute break during the first year after childbirth, but this requirement isn't tied to a certain number of hours.

How Many Breaks Are Required Per Shift in Texas?

Since there are no Texas labor laws on breaks, there's no requirement for a certain number of breaks during a 7- to 8-hour shift.

That said, it's common for workplaces to provide one 30-minute meal break and two 15-minute rest breaks in that time.

How Many Hours Can an Employee Work Without a Break in California?

California has fairly strict labor laws concerning meal and rest breaks.

Employers are required to provide 10 consecutive minutes as a rest break for every 4 hours of work. This applies to any shift that is 3.5 hours or longer.

A 30-minute meal break must be provided no later than 5 hours into a shift, though it can be waived for workdays 6 hours or less. If an employee works at least 10 hours in a day, a second 30-minute meal break is required, with a voluntary waiver allowed for workdays under 12 hours.

What Are the Meal Break Laws in New York State?

New York State has more extensive (and complicated) meal break laws than most states.

Factories are required to provide a 1-hour lunch period. For shifts that don't include midday, an hour-long meal break is required midway through the shift.

In other types of workplaces, you're entitled to a 30-minute lunch break if you work more than a 6-hour shift that includes mid-day.

For long or slightly later shifts, starting before 11 am and working after 7 pm, you're entitled to a second meal break for dinner (between 5 pm and 7 pm) that's at least 20 minutes.

Evening or graveyard shifts with a start time between the hours of 1 pm and 6 am mean you're entitled to a 45-minute break midway through your shift as long as it's 6 hours or more.

New York State doesn't have any rest break requirements.

How Many Breaks Does Illinois Require In An 8-Hour Shift?

In Illinois, anyone who works at least 7.5 continuous hours is entitled to a 20-minute break, at a minimum. It has to start no later than 5 hours into the shift. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule, including part-time employees and those that are "vitally needed.