A brief guide to Alabama labor laws on breaks
The state of Alabama follows the provisions of the Federal Labor Standards Act. Under the guidelines of these laws, no employer is legally obligated to provide workers age 16 or older with a break for meals. However, there are several notable exceptions concerning Alabama labor laws on breaks:
• Anyone who is a mother is entitled to reasonable time to breast-feed a child for up to a year from their birth. Alabama labor laws on break time also mandate that an employer must provide an area for mothers to do so. This area must be something other than a bathroom.
• Under Alabama labor laws on breaks, any employee who is age 14 or 15 is entitled to a 30-minute lunch break if they are working for five or more hours.
An employer thus has considerable discretion in deciding whether or not to give their employees time off to eat or to perform non-work-related actions during their working day. However, Alabama labor laws on break time also provide certain guidelines as to how such periods must be compensated if they are granted:
• Any time given to eat or otherwise break up the work day must be compensated if it is under 30 minutes in duration. Alabama labor laws on breaks do not allow employees to claim that this time is non-compensated.
• If 30 minutes or more are granted for a break during the workday, an employer does not have to compensate their employees. However, Alabama labor laws on break time also mandate that an employer cannot govern how their workers spend their time. For example, they cannot require employees to stay within their office or worksite during this time.
Another important aspect of work life related to Alabama labor laws on breaks concern vacation time. Federal law does not require employers to give their employees any time off for vacations.
However, although Alabama labor laws on break time do not state how employees must handle this situation, this does not mean certain regulations must not be followed. Any person who enters into a job will sign a contract detailing the terms of their employment. If vacation time is granted, Alabama labor laws on breaks require employers to honor the terms of their contract. Failure to do so is a breach of contract that can lead to litigation.
Any employee who believes their rights are being violated can take several steps to pursue recourse. If your rights as detailed by Alabama labor laws on break time are not being honored, you should contact the United States Department of Labor. You may do so either over the phone or in person at their Birmingham or Mobile offices. Maintain all records related to your claims regarding violations of Alabama labor laws on break time, such as paystubs. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to demonstrate that an employer is in violation of the law.