Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Feb 16, 2023

DOL releases guidance on rest breaks and meal periods

Wage and Hour 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2023-1 providing guidance on wage and hour topics related to employees who engage in telework, although the principles apply equally to onsite employees. It explains how you should ensure that workers who telework are paid properly under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The bulletin also provides guidance on short breaks, in addition to meal breaks and off duty time. It also highlights that employees who work offsite or remotely are still covered under the protections of the FLSA.

Short breaks: Breaks of 20 minutes or less taken by employees must be counted as hours worked and treated as compensable. The bulletin says that short breaks, whether taken at home or taken at the workplace, benefit employers by reducing workers’ fatigue and helping workers maintain focus, which may increase overall productivity.

Meal breaks and off duty time: The bulletin explains “bona fide meal breaks” and off duty time and provides three examples of time usage to illustrate what would be compensable. It notes that bona fide meal breaks aren’t hours worked under the FLSA, as long as employees are completely relieved from duty for longer than 20 minutes and can use the time for their own purposes.

Tips: Contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney if you have any questions about tracking work hours or providing breaks and meal periods for teleworking employees. Also, review our state-specific Legal Guides for breaks and meal periods for California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Washington Agricultural Employees.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.