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Guidelines for mandatory NYS meal periods

I’ve been asked often, by both employers and employees, what regulations there are in New York State regarding meal periods.  Here’s the gist of it:

  Meal Period Guidelines – Section 162 of the New York State Labor Law

 NYS Statute regulates mandatory meal period guidelines, but it does not require employers to compensate employees during such mealtime.

 

 

 

ELIGIBILITY

Section 162 applies to every “person” in any establishment or occupation covered by the Labor Law. This includes all categories of workers, including blue collar workers, white collar workers and management.  An employer must offer an uninterrupted meal period to every employee who requests one.

 

EXCLUSIONS

There are few special cases, which include a One-Employee Shift.   When it is necessary and customary for the employee to eat on the job without relief, it applies to the following

  • When there is only one person on duty
  • When there is only one person in a specific occupation

In the event that the employee volunteers to accept this arrangement, the NYS Department of Labor may accept these special situations.  However, an employer must offer an uninterrupted meal period to every employee who asks for one.

 

BENEFITS

Noonday

Noonday meal period is defined as the time between 11:00 am through 2:00 pm

60-minute minimum

  • Every person employed in or in connection with a factory shall be allowed at least 60 minutes for the noonday meal

30-minute minimum

  • Every person employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provision of this chapter, who works a shift in excess of 6 hours which extends over the noonday meal period, shall be allowed at least 30 minutes for the noonday meal, except as otherwise described herein
  • Without application by the employer
  • Only if it causes no hardship to employees

 20-minute minimum

Employers may offer a meal period of at least 20 minutes:

  • ONLY in special or unusual cases
  • After an investigation by the NYS Labor Department
  • After issue of a special permit, which will be in writing and kept posted in the main entrance of the establishment. It should be noted that the permit can be revoked at any time.

Extended & Late Night

  • Any employee who works a shift starting before 11:00 am and continuing later than 7:00 pm, shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least 20 minutes between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm
  • Any employee employed in or in connection with a factory, working for a period of more than 6 hours, starting between the hours of 1:00 pm and 6:00 am, shall be allowed at least 60 minutes for a meal period at a time midway through the beginning and end of the shift
  • Any employee employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation who works a shift starting before 1:00 pm and 6:00 am, shall be allowed at least 45 minutes for a meal period at a time midway through the beginning and end of the shift

 

ENFORCEMENT AGENCY

NYS Department of Labor

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