Can we require an employee to take a lunch break?

Can we require an employee to take a lunch break?


We have an employee working through their lunch break. Can we require them to take it?


Yes, generally you can and should require an employee to take a lunch break. In many states, employers are required to provide employees with rest breaks, meal breaks, or both, and are sometimes even required to provide them at specific times during an employee’s shift.

An employee skipping these rest periods could result in noncompliance with those laws as well as negative impacts on that employees health, well-being and overall productivity.

Before taking adverse action against the employee, though, try to discover why they’re working through their break. They might prefer a different time, or feel pressure to work through breaks to keep up with their workload. Approach the situation with curiosity and try to find a solution that works for both of you.

If the employee continues to skip their breaks despite these efforts, then consider whether discipline is appropriate.

Original content by HR Ministry Solutions. This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.