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New York protects meal breaks for retail workers

Retail workers often have a variety of shifts. Some retail employees only work a few hours each week, while others work full-time. Sometimes, employees will take a longer shift to cover for a coworker. Amid the chaos of scheduling, employers must respect the laws that protect workers’ breaks. Meal periods, for example, are a special kind of break that New York requires in some situations.

As an employer, you likely want to keep up productivity while abiding by the laws. Knowing the breaks your workers should receive can help you avoid disputes with your employees.

The requirements for meals follow common sense; you can think of them as a “lunch” and a “dinner” break. Section 162 of the New York State Labor Law dictates the conditions for necessary meal breaks according to the time of day and the duration of the worker’s shift.

In the context of most retail jobs, the rules regarding “lunch” breaks include:

  • At least 30 minutes in length to eat uninterrupted
  • Must occur between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Shifts at least 6 hours long and span the lunch period must contain this break

In addition, “dinner” break guidelines include:

  • At least 20 minutes in length to eat uninterrupted
  • Must occur between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Shifts that span 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. must contain this break

Although these laws are likely to apply to most types of retail jobs, Section 162 does not account for every situation or special circumstances. If you have questions about meal breaks for your employees, consult a legal professional. Compliance with labor laws can prevent arguments and keep your team in high spirits.

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