Lunches & Breaks for Employers

Dear M & M:

As an employer, am I required to give lunch or break periods?

– Larissa

Dear Larissa:

We do not intend for this to be legal advice, nor is it our intent to act as your attorney. It is strongly advised one should always check with a competent attorney familiar with Federal and State Labor Laws.

Generally, any employer who does more than $500,000 in business is required to follow the federal rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding employment.

As always there are exceptions and exemptions to every rule including this one.  “Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks, but there are rules and regulations concerning payments to employee for time spend on breaks and meals.

In addition, The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), Labor Department states, “meals and break periods are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee’s representative)”.

Company policies regarding breaks and rest periods should be addressed in an employee handbook. One of the most valuable assets to any employer is their workforce. Keeping them happy, safe and health should be a top concern. Not required, but recommended seems to be the answer here.

Here are some additional contact numbers that you could use to ask employment questions or receive additional help: Arizona Attorney General, Civil Rights Division:  – (602) 542-5263 (Phoenix),  (800) 491-5742 (Phoenix),  (520) 628-6500 (Tucson),  (877) 491-5740 (Tucson).

Industrial Commission of Arizona, Labor Department:  -(602) 542-4515 (Phoenix), (520) 628-5459 (Tucson).

The Arizona State Senate published a brief about labor and employment laws titled “Labor Employment Laws,” which is available online. Read more:


To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email


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