• Can an employee waive a meal break?

Under Michigan law, an employer does not have to provide breaks of any kind, including meal breaks, to employees who are over 18 years old. Employers must provide minor employees a thirty-minute uninterrupted break or rest period when they work more than five continuous hours. This requirement may not be waived by either the employee or the employer. 

Under federal law, if an employer allows short breaks (from five to twenty minutes), these must be compensated as part of the workday. Although employers are not required to give meal breaks for employees eighteen years or older, they have the option to provide a thirty-minute or more break. Federal law does not require meal breaks. However, if an employer provides bona fide meal breaks, they are not a part of the work time and are unpaid. If the employee is still obligated to do work during their break or be “on call,” the time is compensated.

Sometimes, employees may not want to take a meal break. An hourly employee may not want to lose the wage from their paycheck by taking a thirty-minute or more break. Since state and federal labor laws do not require adult employees to take a meal break, an employee may waive their meal break unless the employer requires otherwise in the employee handbook, company policies, or employment contract.

A Trusted Authority

Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including: