Virginia employees often assume they are entitled by law to rest periods and meal breaks. Such a belief is a misconception. Although most employers voluntarily provide their full-time employees meal breaks and rest periods, neither Virginia nor federal law requires them. One exception is Virginia’s child labor law, which prohibits an employer from requiring or permitting a child under 16 years of age to work for more than five hours continuously without a lunch period of at least 30 minutes.
Federal law also does not mandate meal or rest breaks, but if an employer offers those breaks, regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act address whether the breaks must be considered as hours worked. Breaks which are 20 minutes or less are counted as hours worked for which the employee must be paid. Meal periods of at least 30 minutes are not counted as hours worked and pay for that time is not required. However, in order for the break to be counted as a true meal period, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating a regular meal. The employee is not considered as relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about this matter.