Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
February 2nd 2022.
Understanding Missouri Labor Law on Breaks
Breaks are a critical factor in an employee’s satisfaction and safety in the workplace. If you suspect your right to a break has been violated, you may consider filing an employment claim.
A variety of break laws exist throughout the United States. But what about in Missouri specifically? Here’s the lowdown on Missouri labor regulations regarding breaks.
Basics of Missouri Break Laws
This may come as a surprise, but in terms of Missouri labor regulations for breaks, there is no legal mandate in the state. This means there is nothing requiring any employer to provide a break, even a lunch hour, after working an entire shift.
However, Missouri labor regulations for breaks provide that the provisions suggested by normal contractor training be left under the owner’s law and agreed upon by the employee.
In those other terms, when it comes to Missouri labor regulations regarding breaks, the employee must be aware of the employer’s intentions about lunch breaks and breaks. The employee can then choose whether or not to accept it. Furthermore, if the employer has not already done so, Missouri labor rules for breaks empower employees to petition and address corporate policy and contract to allow breaks.
Missouri Labor Laws on Lunch Breaks
Missouri labor laws are quite different from other states regarding lunch breaks or breaks in general. Employers usually grant employees breaks even if they aren’t required to by federal law because they know that workers are far more productive if they have breaks and lunchtime.
More than this, federal law ensures that employers pay for every working hour, including the time spent by the employee in their time designated as “break.” For example, if a receptionist has to wait for deliveries in their lunchtime, that time spent waiting is considered work.
The receptionist can enjoy their lunchtime while waiting because the time spent while eating is considered working time and has to be paid according to Missouri labor laws. The employee is technically working and is entitled to payment.
Breaks that last between five to twenty minutes are part of the workday, and by federal law, the employees must be paid for this time. Employers are not obligated to pay bona fide meal breaks when the employee is not working and has been relieved of all duties. Employees can use these labor laws to their advantage only if the employer allows for such breaks.
Missouri Federal Minimum Wage Breaks
Missouri’s minimum wage laws dictate that employers aren’t required to pay the state minimum wage. This applies to employers that activate in either retail or service businesses and where the annual gross income is less than $500,000.
Any employer who doesn’t fit in this category of minimum wage law is free to pay their employees any wage. The minimum wage in Missouri has increased in recent years. In 2015, the Missouri minimum wage was $7.65. The minimum wage in 2022 is $11.15, and in 2023, the minimum wage is expected to rise to $12.00.
The prevailing wage rates might change in the future, and Missouri employers might have to pay minimum wages that are different from standard state minimum wage rates for certain types of employees.
For example, if the employees work on either government-funded construction projects or participate in certain federal or state government services, they may be eligible for prevailing wage rates. Missouri minimum wage workers, however, are also subject to the same labor laws.
Missouri labor laws state that employers aren’t obligated to provide breaks of any kind, even for minimum wage workers. However, if an employer agrees to give a minimum wage employee breaks lasting less than 20 minutes, then that time must be paid by the employer.
If you are facing wage disputes, it is best to contact a Kansas City wage disputes lawyer. Ask them about the prevailing wage rates and Missouri’s minimum wage laws. To learn more about labor standards, overtime pay, unpaid time, and if you are eligible for prevailing wage rates, read more here or directly consult with a wage disputes lawyer.
Nursing Mother Breaks Missouri Labor Laws
Missouri labor laws do not require employers – even when it comes to nursing mothers – to provide them with breaks for nursing actions. However, there is the federal Fair Labor Standards Act which intervenes.
The act requires employers to provide nonexempt nursing mothers for one year after a child’s birth with rest breaks and even private spaces beside a bathroom to express breast milk.
If such agreements were made between the employer and the employee, and the employer violates those agreements, then contacting a Kansas City employment lawyer might be the best solution, especially for nursing mothers.
Our law firm provides free consultations for employment law violations victims. Contact us today at 816-205-4119 and discuss with a lawyer your situation to see which federal rules apply in your case. Learn more about meal or lunch period breaks in Missouri, Missouri wage, prevailing wages, hour laws, reemployment rights act, sick leave, medical leave, other labor laws, or issues with your employment contract.
Federal Labor Law Breaks 8-Hour Day
Missouri labor laws don’t require employers to grant employees breaks, even if it is an 8-hour day shift. Any break or lunchtime is permitted only if both parties have agreed to it before signing the employment contract.
If they’ve agreed about break periods, employers have to pay employees for their break time. However, this only applies if the employee is still considered to be working while taking a break and if it is under 20 minutes.
For example, if Missouri employees are granted their lunchtime and exceed 20 minutes during their meal, the time spent eating isn’t included in the working hours. If an employee is granted lunchtime during an 8-hour shift, they will usually benefit from their breaks at around five and one-half hours of working time.
According to Missouri labor laws, employers have to pay employees overtime at a rate of about 1 ½ times the employee’s regular rate if they work for more than 40 hours in a week, unless otherwise exempt.