VA Meal and Rest Periods

Virginia employment law provides minimal requirements for meal and rest periods. Specifically, minors aged 14 and 15 are not permitted to work for more than five hours continuously without an interval of at least thirty minutes for a lunch period, and no period of less than thirty minutes is deemed to interrupt a continuous period of work.

Realistically, most employers provide their employees with meals periods and rest breaks. Not only are these breaks considered an important benefit, but such breaks also provide a time for refreshment and rejuvenation contributing to employees' productivity. Federal wage and hour guidelines define a bona fide (unpaid) meal period as at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted time, free of any work duties. Rest breaks of less than twenty minutes are compensable and are treated as time worked for payroll purposes.

Recent health care reform legislation amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and imposes new federal requirements mandating that employers provide nursing mothers with unpaid breaks as often as needed in order to express breast milk for the employee's nursing child. Employers must provide a private place (other than a bathroom) for this purpose, which is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. The breaks for expressing milk are in effect for up to one year after the child's birth.

Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt if these requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense, when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer's business.

Should you have questions about meal and rest periods, you may contact SESCO Management Consultants by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .