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Do Ohio Employees Get Paid for Meal Breaks?


If you work at an Ohio workplace but are not getting paid for breaks, you might be unsure if the practice is legal or not. According to federal law, if an employer gives an employee a rest that is 20 minutes or less, it should be paid. But, the state of Ohio does not require businesses to pay for lunch breaks.

When an employee needs guidance about wage and compensation issues, an Ohio employment lawyer can help. Reach out to a Columbus, Ohio employment attorney if you are an employee or employer with questions about Ohio break laws.

Lunch and Other Breaks at Ohio Workplaces

People need to eat regularly to be happy and healthy, so it stands to reason that many organizations and businesses provide their staff with meal breaks, sometimes with pay to maintain a positive and productive workplace. That said, there is no legal requirement to provide a meal break in Ohio. In Ohio, the only legal requirement to provide a meal break is to minor employees, workers who are 17 years old or younger.

So, if you are given a meal break that is not considered part of a workday (meaning that it is an unpaid meal break) keep the following required criteria in mind.

  • The employee is completely relieved from their job duties so they can solely eat a meal.
  • The meal break is of a certain length, 30 minutes or more unless there are special conditions.

We often find that employees have not been properly compensated for all overtime where their employer provides unpaid meal breaks (or even automatically deducts a 30-minute meal break), but the employees are not completely relieved of all job duties during such meal breaks.  Deducting a meal break where an employee is not completely relieved of all job duties would likely violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In addition, new mothers are entitled to express milk at work for a year after the baby’s birth under the FLSA. Eligible employees should be provided with a private place (not a bathroom) where a mother can express milk to save for her child. There are requirements for this as employers with less than 50 employees could be exempt from this requirement.

Ohio Minor Break Laws

For minors, there are break laws in the state of Ohio. It is required by law that workers under the age of 18 years old have breaks. After five hours, a minor employee is entitled to a 30 minute meal break.

The amount of hours a minor can work depends on the time of year that the work is being done. On days when school is in session, individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to work more than 18 hours each week or 3 hours each day. When school is not in session, Ohio minors can work up to 8 hours each day.

There are many elements of Ohio wage and labor laws, a Columbus employment attorney has the knowledge and expertise to handle complex legal concerns. When there are questions in connection to Ohio break laws, wage laws, or overtime rights, it is important to connect with a legal professional.

Do you have Ohio break law questions? The attorneys at Coffman Legal handle a variety of employment law concerns, including minimum wage violations, unpaid wage violations, and unpaid overtime. We regularly file unpaid meal break cases or other cases where employers provide unlawful unpaid breaks. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation.


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