Is it legal for an employer to ask you to work 8 hours without a lunch break

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Is it legal for an employer to ask you to work 8 hours without a lunch break

I am asked to work 8 hours daily 40 hours a week
but am not allowed to leave or take a lunch break. Is
this legal?

Asked on November 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no federal law giving workers a right to either a rest or meal break. However, some states require such breaks, unfortunately MD is not one of them. That having been sadi, whether your state has a break law or not, a worker almost always has to be paid for breaks of less than 20 minutes. Additionally, health benfits are not legally mandated, which means that they are provided at the discretion of an employer (i.e. they need not be given). The only protection you might have here is if a union agreement or employment contract provides otherwise.

the break is at least last 20 minutes, AND
you are relieved of all work (you are not told what to do during the break)

Oddly, the Department of Labor says that a meal break can be unpaid, even if you are not allowed to leave your work site. But, if you are doing anything for your boss, you must be paid. You must be completely relieved of your work and responsibility if you are not paid. If your meal breaks are often interrupted that is a strong sign that you should be paid for your breaks.
If your meal breaks are paid, be sure that you are also being paid overtime if that means that your workweek is more than 40 hours. For example, if you work from 8:30 a.m. -5 p.m. with a 30-minute meal break and two days a week you work during your meal break, you worked 41 hours that week and one hour is at time-and-a-half (41.5 hours).


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