Washington’s Rest Break Laws
One common issue that we see happens when an employer does not provide employees with proper rest breaks. Employees must know their rights. We have put together a simple primer on Washington’s rest break laws. This is just a basic summary of the Washington’ employment laws addressing rest breaks. Each case has unique facts and may make a difference when applying the law to specific facts. Laws change over time, so make sure to review or check with a lawyer to make sure you have the most up to date laws.
Length and Frequency of a Rest Break
Washington employment laws require Employers to provide employees with a 10 minute paid rest break every four hours. The rest break must happen no later than the 3rd hour of work.
Scheduling Rest Breaks
Employers do not need to schedule rest breaks for employees. But employers do need to affirmatively promote meaningful break time. Employers need to make sure employees are taking rest breaks. Taking 10 – one minute breaks is probably not meaningful break time. Its not enough for an employer to tell an employee to take a break if they able. Often times employees are overworked or the workplace is understaffed and therefore employees can not take breaks. The employer is in control of the workplace and must make sure that its employee’s are taking rest breaks as required by law.
Are Rest Breaks Voluntary?
Rest breaks are mandatory. Employees cannot waive their right to take rest breaks. Employers shouldn’t pressure employees into missing rest breaks.
What is a Rest Break?
A rest break is a time for personal rest and relaxation. The employer must completely relieve the employee is of all work duties. An employer can require you to stay on the premises, but the employee must be free from all work duties.
Should I get Paid for Rest Breaks
Yes! An employer must pay for a 10 minute rest break for every four hours of work. If you work on piece rate basis, then you must be paid separately for rest breaks. For example, if you are paid per mile or paid for a unit of production (think being be paid for a basket of berries picked, or per square foot of install).