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Ask a Lawyer: How Long Should My Break Time Be, Legally?

Every week here at Rocket Lawyer we invite guest attorneys to our Facebook page to answer your legal questions. This week we chose to highlight a question from a woman in Colorado who is worried that her employer may not be giving her the legally allotted break time everyday.

If you have any pressing legal questions for our guest attorneys, come by our Facebook page every Wednesday from 10:30am-12:00pm (pacific time). If you can’t make it,  submit your questions early and we will do our best to answer your questions.

In Colorado my employer is saying that we can only have one 10 min break and a half hour lunch in 8 hour shift, is that legal?

Labor laws regarding rest time and meal periods vary from state to state.  In Colorado, covered nonexempt employees are entitled to at least a 30 minute unpaid meal break if their work day exceeds five consecutive hours. Generally, a nonexempt employee is one who is entitled to the minimum wage and/or overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act. While some employers do allow for an hour long unpaid break for lunch, they are not obligated to do so. It’s important to know that there are certain employees who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act . Exempt employees are generally salaried employees, managers, and other professionals.

Also, Colorado labor laws state that these covered nonexempt employees are entitled to a ten minute paid rest period for every four hours of work. If you feel that you’re entitled to more rest periods than you’re currently getting, you might want to speak to your boss or someone in the Human Resources department about your concerns.  If your concerns are still not addressed, you may want to consult an attorney or consider filing a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

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