Taking a break from work can increase focus, productivity, and creativity. But unfortunately, some employers in Oklahoma do not allow their employees to take breaks. As a worker, it’s important to understand your rights in the workplace. Here’s what you should know about meal and rest breaks:
Are Employers Required to Provide Breaks?
There is no federal or state law that requires employers in Oklahoma to provide meal or rest breaks to their employees. However, there is an exception for workers under the age of 16. The law states that these minor workers must be given a meal break of at least 30 minutes if they have worked five or more consecutive hours.
Can Employers Provide Breaks?
Many employers do provide breaks to their employees even though they are not legally required to do so. But, it’s important to understand that breaks should be seen as a benefit offered by the employer, not an employee’s right protected by law.
Paid vs. Unpaid Breaks
Many employees who are provided breaks wonder whether or not they should be paid for the time they are away from their work. Federal law requires employers to compensate their employees for small breaks that last between 5-20 minutes. This means if you are provided one of these short breaks, you should still be paid your normal rate for the time you are away.
The law does not require employers to pay for meal breaks. However, if the employee is expected to work during her meal break, the employer must pay her. For example, if a secretary eats at her desk during her meal break so she can wait for scheduled deliveries, she should be paid for this time. Even though she is eating, she is still performing some of her job duties, so she should be compensated. But, if the secretary is completely relieved from her job duties during her break, she will not be compensated.
Keep in mind that these rules only apply to employers who allow their employees to take breaks. It is still up to the employer to decide whether they want to provide breaks. If they choose to do so, they must comply with these rules.
If your employer is violating your workplace rights, speak to the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. Let us protect your rights by holding your employer accountable for their actions. Please call us today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.