Meal Periods and Work Breaks Policy


This document provides policy on employee work breaks and state-mandated meal periods for employees working in New York State (NYS).

Basis for Policy

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) establishes guidelines for meal periods for non-exempt employees based on the length of the scheduled work day and on the time frame within which the work is performed. No other break or rest period is mandated by law.

Meal period guidelines are set forth in Section 162 of the New York State Labor Law. A copy of Section 162 is available on the NYSDOL Web site:

Policy on Meal Periods

The meal periods mandated by the New York State Department of Labor must not be waived. Employees must not be required to perform any work while they are taking a mandatory meal period.

Policy on Work Breaks

Work break periods of 10 or 15 minutes may be granted to non-exempt employees at the discretion of the department director or immediate supervisor.

Because these work break periods are considered time worked, the total break time granted may not exceed 30 minutes per day, per employee. These breaks are not mandated by state law, but must be administered consistently.

Policy on Breaks for Nursing Mothers

The New York State Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Law requires employers to provide at least 20 minutes of unpaid break time every 3 hours for all nursing female employees to express breast milk for up to 3 years after the birth of a child. Employees are allowed to use accrued leave time or work before or after their shifts to make up this time. Employers should also make reasonable efforts to provide a private location for mothers to express milk. Employees are required to give notice, preferably before returning to work after a birth, of their intent to use this benefit.

Change History



Was this document clear and easy to follow? Please send your feedback to

Copyright © 2012 The Research Foundation for The State University of New York