Right to a Meal Break

Can my employer deny me a meal break?


No.  In Connecticut, employers must offer a 30 minute break for any employee who works at least a 7 ½ hour shift.  Furthermore, that break cannot occur during the first or last two hours of the break.  For example, an employee who works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. must have be offered a meal break between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Understand that this meal break need not be taken.  The only legal obligation is that it is offered.  The exact language of the law is:

No person shall be required to work for seven and one-half or more consecutive hours without a period of at least thirty consecutive minutes for a meal. Such period shall be given at some time after the first two hours of work and before the last two hours.
C.G.S. Section 31.51i.

 There are a few exceptions to this rule, including when:
complying with this requirement would endanger public safety; the duties of the position can only be performed by one employee; the employer employs less than 5 employees on that shift at that one business location (this only applies to that particular shift); or, the employer’s operation requires that employees be available to respond to urgent conditions, and that the employees are compensated for the meal period.
There is no requirement to give any other breaks, such as morning and afternoon breaks.  While many employers provide these benefits, they are not required by Connecticut law.

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