FAQs About Ohio’s Meal & Rest Break Laws

For any employee, breaks can be essential. Here’s everything you need to know about Ohio’s meal and rest break laws.

Federal and state laws have no requirement for meal and rest breaks, with exceptions. However, many companies offer breaks anyway and must follow federal compensation requirements.

Exempt employees entitled to breaks include:

  • Minors aged 17 and younger
  • Nursing mothers
  • Workers with disabilities

Does federal law require employee meal and rest breaks?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide meal and rest breaks to adult employees. Therefore, state law determines specific employment rights.

Does Ohio law require employee meal and rest breaks?

In Ohio, state law does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to adult employees. Ohio only mandates minor employees aged 17 and under to take meal breaks.

Related: Ohio Sick Leave Laws: An Overview

What is the Ohio law for minor employee rest breaks?

For every five hours of continuous work, minor employees must take an uninterrupted 30-minute break. Until the employee turns 18, Ohio law protects a minor’s right to rest breaks.

What if my company policy offers meal breaks?

Though federal and state laws do not require meal breaks, company policy may designate breakfast, lunch, or dinner times. Employers must follow federal compensation law if meal breaks are part of a contract.

What is the federal compensation law on company policy meal breaks?

If company policy offers a 30-minute meal break where the employee is not working, the break time is unpaid. However, if the employee must work through meals, the employer must compensate the worker.

Can my employer exclude some employees from meal breaks?

A company must enforce the meal break policy for all employees. Any exclusion based on sex, race, disability, national origin, religion, age, or race is employment discrimination.

What is the federal compensation law on rest breaks?

Though Ohio does not require employers to give rest breaks, many offer breaks anyway. According to federal law, companies offering rest breaks must pay employees for short breaks (up to 20 minutes).

What if I am a nursing mother?

The FLSA requires employers to provide breaks to nursing mothers to pump milk for up to a year after a child’s birth. The company must set up a private place other than a bathroom for nursing mothers to take breaks.

However, exceptions to breaks for nursing mothers exist, including:

  • Employees entitled to overtime pay for extra hours worked
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees and undue hardship to provide such breaks

Do nursing mothers get paid breaks?

The FLSA does not require paid breaks for nursing mothers. Companies offering paid rests must comply with federal compensation requirements.

Related: I Was Fired for Being Sick. Can I Sue My Employer?

Does federal law require breaks for disabled workers?

If you have a disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entitles you to workplace accommodations. Discuss with your employer before signing a contract if you need breaks.

Do penalties apply for violations of FLSA meal and rest break requirements?

Employers can break FLSA requirements in multiple ways, including:

  • Refusing breaks to minors
  • Forgoing rests for nursing mothers
  • Violating company policy
  • Denying wages for short breaks

If your employer violates FLSA requirements, file a wage and hour violation complaint to seek compensation for your lost time and money. Consult an experienced labor attorney for additional advice.

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