July 18, 2019

Meals and Rest Breaks

Kentucky cities, as well as other employers, are required to allot their employees a reasonable period for meal breaks. The law does not define what a “reasonable” meal break is, or how long it should last, but the Kentucky Labor Cabinet has suggested that 30 minutes or longer qualifies as a reasonable meal break. However, the Cabinet has also stated that the reasonableness of the break is dependent upon the circumstances of that break. Under special conditions, a break shorter than 30 minutes may be reasonable, for example, if there is an emergency such as a fire or a water main break. Keep in mind that if the meal break is unpaid and the employee goes back to work before the time period allotted has expired, they should be paid for the time worked.

Kentucky law also states that the meal break should be as close to the middle of the employee's scheduled work shift as possible. Employers cannot require that the employee take this break sooner than three hours nor later than five hours after their work shift starts. There is also no requirement that this time be paid; as mentioned above, if the employee works during the meal break, they must be paid.

In addition to the regularly scheduled meal break, employees are also entitled to additional periodic breaks or rest periods under Kentucky law. The law requires that a rest period of at least ten minutes during each four hours worked must be offered to all employees, and employees should be paid for this time.

For questions on wage and hour issues or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC’s Personnel Services Manager, or Courtney Risk Straw, Personnel Services Attorney.