Guide to Pennsylvania Labor Laws About Breaks
If you are an employee in Pennsylvania, you may want to know more about PA labor laws about breaks. Employees often wonder if their employer is giving enough breaks according to state and federal laws. This guide will help you understand Pennsylvania labor laws about breaks, including who the laws apply to and whether your employee agreement may supercede these laws.
Many states require that employees be given a meal period at some point during their shift if they work a certain number of hours. However, PA labor laws about breaks do not require employers to give meal breaks to any adult employees. If your employer does not give you any meal break, even in a long shift, they are not violating any Pennsylvania labor laws about breaks. If an employer does choose to give meal breaks to an employee, all meal breaks lasting 20 minutes or longer may be unpaid.
If you have a union contract or employment agreement with your employer that specifies meal periods, PA labor laws about breaks require that your employer respect this agreement. If your contract is being violated, you should look at provisions in your own employment agreement for handling a breach. You may need to talk to a union representative or an employment lawyer if a prior agreement has been violated by your employer.
Much like with meal breaks, Pennsylvania labor laws about breaks do not require employers to provide any rest or coffee breaks for employees—not even for just a few minutes in a long shift. Many employers choose to provide such breaks anyhow, and PA labor laws about breaks require that all breaks shorter than 20 minutes be paid.
Even if your employer does not otherwise permit breaks, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as Pennsylvania labor laws about breaks require that employers provide employees with reasonable bathroom breaks as needed. If your employer is not allowing you to take breaks to use the bathroom when you need to, they may be in violation of PA labor laws about breaks and you may wish to consult with an employment attorney.
In addition to reasonable restroom breaks, employers are required by federal and Pennsylvania laws about breaks to provide employees with unpaid breastfeeding breaks as needed. This is a relatively new law, which recognizes that breastfeeding employees may need breaks to prevent discomfort and continue breastfeeding a child after a working mother returns to her job.
Breaks for Minors
While Pennsylvania labor laws about breaks do not require employers to give breaks to adults, but children must be given appropriate breaks. Any person age 14 to 17 who works five or more consecutive hours must be given a minimum of a 30 minute meal break according to PA labor laws about breaks. This meal break may be paid or unpaid. All rest breaks given to minors that last less than 20 minutes must be paid.