Lunches & Breaks – Pennsylvania Law

Approximately 20 state laws specify a minimum meal period and the conditions under which the employee earns the right to that meal period. Pennsylvania, however, is not one of those states.

You deserve to be paid what you are owed.

Short Breaks Are Paid!

Employers are not required to give breaks for employees 18 and over. If the employer allow breaks that are less than 20 minutes, you must be paid for the break.


The laws for other states vary. California, for example, has a law that requires a 10 minute rest period for every four (4) hours worked if the employer is covered by the rest period provisions of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders. Otherwise, the employer owes the employee one hour of regular pay for each rest period not provided.


An employer in Pennsylvania is not required to pay you for meal times if you do not work during your meal period and it lasts more than twenty (20) minutes. Generally, there is no requirement that an employer provide a meal period in PA (for exceptions, see below!). Collective bargaining agreements and public employees will have different rules.

Automatic Deductions

Employers are permitted to automatically deduct thirty minutes (or another period) of scheduled meal breaks from their employees’ time records on a daily basis. However, tree must be a system in place for the employee to override or adjust the deduction if they worked for some portion (or all) of their meal break.

Required Breaks In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law generally does not require employees be given breaks or meals. However, the law requires minors ages 14 through 17 years of age to be given break periods of at least 30 minutes when they work five or more hours. Seasonal farm workers in PA also must be given a 30 minute meal period after five straight hours of work. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires employers to provide toilet facilities and not place unreasonable restrictions on access to the bathroom facilities. And the Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

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