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Are Indiana workers entitled to breaks?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2016 | Wage & Hour Laws

Indiana workers have many rights. However, the right to a break is generally not one of them. 

Under both Indiana and federal law, employers are typically not required to provide their employees with breaks. This is the case for both lunch breaks and shorter breaks (like coffee breaks). So, here in Indiana, the decision of whether to grant such breaks is, in most cases, left solely to the discretion of employers. 

There is, however, one special class of workers that does have lunch break rights under state law: workers under the age of 18. Specifically, a 30-minute lunch period is generally required for such workers between the third and fifth hour that they work. However, exceptions to this requirement do exist.

Also, while employers in the state don’t have to provide breaks for most workers, when they decide to give their employees breaks, there are federal rules present regarding whether they have to pay their workers in relation to the break time. Under federal law, short 5-20 minute breaks employers provide workers generally are required to be paid breaks, while lunch breaks are not.

One situation a worker sometimes finds themselves in is their employer refusing to pay them for a chunk of time, like break time, that they believe the employer should have paid them for. When facing such a pay denial, having the guidance of an attorney knowledgeable on the laws regarding what things constitute compensable work time (such as laws regarding the compensability of break time) can be important. Such lawyers can help a worker determine if they would be able to bring a legal claim against their employers for a pay denial.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, “Breaks & Meal Periods,” Accessed Feb. 25, 2016

FindLaw, “Indiana Wage and Hour Laws,” Accessed Feb. 25, 2016

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