Thursday, September 10, 2015

Research Q of the Week: Breaks for City Employees (9/10/15)

Question: Does a city have to provide meal breaks for city employees? Are these paid breaks?

Answer: City staffers work hard, and regular breaks can keep us all refreshed and on task. State law requires all employers in Minnesota, including cities, to provide two types of mandatory work breaks for employees:

Mandatory restroom breaks
State law requires employers to allow employees time away from work to use the restroom at least every four hours. If you need to check your fantasy football lineup more often than that, well, you may be out of luck.

Mandatory meal breaks
State law requires employers to give employees who work for eight or more consecutive hours sufficient time off to eat a meal, but employers do not have to pay employees during meal breaks. Cities may want to encourage their employees to take meal breaks for both safety and productivity reasons.

Cities can negotiate different restroom and meal breaks with their union employees under a collective bargaining agreement. Also, be aware that cities may need to provide certain employees with additional work breaks in order to comply with other state and federal laws, such as those providing rights to pregnant employees and employees with disabilities.

For more information about city employment issues, please see the League’s HR Reference Manual.

Written by Susan Naughton, research attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: or (651) 281-1232.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.

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