Does an employee have to take a lunch break if they do not want to take a lunch break ?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does an employee have to take a lunch break if they do not want to take a lunch break ?

Employee works 8 hours straight and does not require a lunch break, employee works in a department that is open from 8-4 daily and wants to leave at 400pm. At this point in time no company policy regarding not taking lunch breaks, other employees uses lunch breaks to attend to personal business at the end of day.What is the difference? Is there a law requiring an employee to take a lunch break?

Asked on May 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have the right to skip your meal break pursuant to the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, as an "at will" employee, your employer can set workplace conditions much as it sees fit (absent legally actionable discrimination, breach of safety standards, etc.). This includes mandating that employees take their meal breaks. The fact is that skipping lunch means that the employer has to compensate an employee for the work done during the normal lunch period and this could put the employee in an overtime situation. However, it is within the employer's discretion to let the employee go home early from their shift; possibly this would be an option for you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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