The shortest answer to the question posed is, “No, Ohio labor laws do not require employers to give breaks to the overwhelming majority of employees.”
Since this is nowhere near the complete answer, read on if you believe your employer is treating you unfairly when it comes to setting your hours and paying you for all the time you spend on the clock.
Automatic Meal Period Deductions
Some employers take an automatic meal period deduction of 0.5 or 1.0 hours each day that employees work shifts over a certain length of time. While an automatic meal deduction policy does not violate the law, employees must be entitled to have an uninterrupted meal break in order for the deduction to be legal. If the employees have meal periods interrupted by work or are otherwise unable to take a meal break, employers must have procedure in place for employees to report missed and/or interrupted meal breaks because these meal periods are compensable time.
There are many issues that arise when an employer utilizes meal period deductions. If you have questions about deductions, contact an Ohio unpaid wages attorney.
If employees have to clock out for use of the restroom or other short breaks, this may violate federal and state laws. Employers must compensate employees for these very short breaks. If an employer requires employees to clock out for all breaks, there employees may have a right to bring a lawsuit against the employer.
Usually, making a formal complaint to the state or a filing a lawsuit over such an issue only makes sense when large numbers of employees are affected or when an employer denies paid breaks.
Required Breaks for Workers Younger Than 18
Companies and agencies in Ohio are required to give any worker who is younger than 18 years old a 30-minute break for each five hours the teen spends working. Employers must also restrict teens’ work shifts so their time spent on the job does not conflict with school attendance and do not require them to stay on the job past 11 p.m.
The 30-minute break for a young employee does not need to be scheduled as a lunch break, so it can come at any time during a shift. If it is consistently denied, however, an employer is violating one of the more-enforceable labor laws.
Breaks Affect Fair Pay
Whichever way an employer handles this, the company or agency must pay individuals for all the time they spend working. For instance, a person who skips her 30-minute lunch break and puts in a full eight hours must be paid for eight hours instead of for seven-and-a-half. Persistent mismatches between the time people work and the time they get paid for provides very strong grounds for filing employment complaints and lawsuits.
An employer cannot use the argument that an employee was allowed to take unpaid breaks as a defense against withholding earned pay and overtime. Proving that an employer is not accounting honestly for break time requires presenting detailed records. Partnering with an experienced Columbus, Ohio, employment lawyer will help an employee or group of employees put together such records.
Matthew Coffman of Coffman Legal welcomes further questions about Ohio work break laws. You can schedule a confidential consultation online or by calling him at (614) 949-1181.