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Top 3 Questions about Breaks and Workday Hours

52063975Employment Breaks and Workday Hours

Workers in New York City are protected by employment laws that address work hours and breaks during the workday. Some employees are legally entitled to breaks and in some cases, those breaks must be a specific length of time.

What are three of the most common questions asked about breaks and workday hours?

Is it legal to work 24 straight hours in New York?

It should surprise no one to learn that working for 24 straight hours causes people to experience mental, emotional, and physical stress. Despite the detrimental nature of that long of a workday, there is no federal law preventing workers from requiring an employee to work 24 hours or more except in specific cases.

However, some industries limit how many consecutive hours per shift. For example, truck drivers are limited in how many hours straight they can drive.

In industries in which employees can be asked to work 24 hours or more per shift, employers must pay overtime for extended shifts and must provide employees with breaks throughout the workday. There are also federal laws governing on-call work, overtime pay, teenage work hours, and safety measured.

In some cases, part of a 24-hour or more shift will be spent sleeping. An example of this would be firefighters and doctors who must be on-premises working in case of an event, but not actively performing their job duties at all times. When sleep is included in a worker’s shift, employers are permitted to reduce pay during those hours. Additionally, sleep breaks and sleeping facilities must be provided and must be at least five hours long.

If you’d like to know more about specific regulations concerning shift length, check out this information on New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.

There are many different industry-specific laws regarding shift length and other issues in New York. If you have questions, it’s important to speak to someone who understands these variations and can help you determine if your rights were violated.

How many breaks should an employee get in an 8-hour shift?

New York labor laws require employers to provide meal breaks for employees. In an average first-shift workday that lasts for six hours or more and occurs between 11 am and 2 pm, a worker must receive a 30-minute unpaid break for lunch.

Anyone who begins work before 11 am and works until after 7 pm must receive a 30-minute lunch break, as well as an additional 20-minute meal break between 5 and 7 pm.

Employees who work more than six hours and begin their shift any time between 1 pm and 6 am are entitled to a mid-shift 45-minute meal break. And factory workers are entitled to a full hour under New York labor laws.

Those who work fewer than six hours per shift are not entitled to any extended meal breaks or short coffee or rest breaks. However, if employers do provide breaks of 20 minutes or less to employees they must be paid.

There are no specific laws in New York addressing restroom breaks, but according to federal law, employees must have access to reasonable bathroom breaks.

How can I sue my employer for not giving me ANY breaks?

If your employer is reluctant to give breaks or denies them completely, you might be able to take action.

The Fair Labor Standards Act and New York City laws regarding breaks are clear. If you meet the criteria for receiving a break during a shift and your employer denies this, you should ask for clarification regarding the company policy on breaks. If it still seems as if you are being denied a break to which you are entitled, you could be eligible to take further action.

If you have questions about shifts, breaks, or anything else related to the work environment, we can help. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.


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