Employee Meal and Rest Breaks: A Kentucky Primer

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It’s a familiar scenario. The deadline looms. There’s lots of work to be done. There’s not enough time to get it all done. May your employer deny you a meal or rest break so that the work can, in fact, get done in time?

In many instances, no.

The Kentucky Wage and Hour Act was enacted, in part, to ensure that employees subject to the Act were treated fairly and with dignity, and employed only under reasonable conditions. In this vein, the Act requires employers to provide employees with meal and rest breaks.

Meal breaks are governed by KRS 337.355, under which employees must be granted “a reasonable period for lunch,” or a meal, between the third and fifth hour after their shift started. While Kentucky law does define what constitutes “reasonable,” it is commonly accepted to be an unpaid period of 30 minutes or more.

Rest breaks are governed by KRS 337.365, under which an employer must provide employees with a paid 10-minute break every four hours of employment. Opinions from the Kentucky Attorney General suggest that every four-hour working period should include a 10-minute break; thus, for every four hours, an employee should work for 3 hours and 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break.

Employees who are denied their statutorily-required meal and rest breaks have two options: they can file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet or file a civil lawsuit against their employer. Which option is best is generally a case-by-case decision based upon the particular circumstances.

If you’ve been denied your meal or rest breaks and want to know more about your rights, call us today for a free consultation.

If your organization wants to implement a lawful meal and rest break policy, needs assistance implementing an existing policy, or simply needs guidance, specifically, on responding to employee complaints of meal and rest break violations or, generally, on the Wage and Hour Act requirements, call us today for a free consultation.


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