Do you have to give your employees a rest break every 4 hours? How long does the break have to be? Are breaks paid time or unpaid? The answer depends on your state. Even though many states do NOT require breaks, most employers still offer breaks to their employees, giving them the chance to stretch, use the restroom, smoke, snack, or get some fresh air. You as an employer need to decide if it makes good business sense to provide those breaks.
What about exempt employees? Employees who are exempt from overtime, are usually also exempt from break and lunch rules.
Federal law: The federal law does NOT require any breaks from private employers. What it does require is that any work breaks that are 2o minutes or less must be paid. That is it. If your state does not have its own break laws, then you go by the federal standards.
State Laws differ. Currently, the DOL only lists 9 states that have mandatory break laws: CA, CO, IL, KY, MN, NV, OR, VT, WA. Most of these impose the following: 10 minutes per every 4 hours of work.
Additional Information: The federal Department of Labor provides an excellent summary of the various state regulations:
More Help: Establish your break rules in writing. Make sure there is a section in your company employee handbook covering this topic. Need help in designing or updating your employee policies? See New Wind for employee handbook designing services: