Labor Standards - Breaks and Meals

Breaks – Employees Younger Than 18

Employees under 18 years of age may not work longer than six hours without receiving at least a 30-minute duty free meal period. Breaks of shorter duration are not required, but – of course – may be offered.

Breaks – Employees 18 Years of Age and Older

For employees of any age, if the employer provides breaks of less than 30 consecutive minutes in duration, the break time should be counted as work time.

Wisconsin law does not require that employers provide brief rest periods, coffee breaks, or meal periods to adult employees, although the Department recommends, at Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 274.02(2), that employers do so.

Employers are encouraged, but not required, to provide breaks of at least 30 minutes in duration at times reasonably close to the usual meal period. Such matters are to be determined directly between the employer and the employee.

On Duty Meal Periods

Employers must pay employees for "on duty" meal periods. An "on duty" meal period is one where the worker is not provided at least 30 consecutive minutes free from work, or where the worker is not free to leave the employer's premises. Employers may not deduct from a worker's wages for authorized breaks of less than 30 consecutive minutes.

Remedies

An employee who has not been paid for all hours worked may file a Labor Standards Complaint with the Equal Rights Division.

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