The term paid breaks refer to employer provided rest periods that are less than twenty minutes in duration. Employers have the ability to designate paid breaks; however, they are not required under federal law.
While state law can be more generous than federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide rest, coffee, or lunch breaks. However, it is common practice for employers to provide their employees with an unpaid break for lunch, dinner, and other meals, which are normally thirty minutes in duration or more.
If an employer has agreed, oftentimes through collective bargaining, to provide employees with short breaks (lasting between five and twenty minutes) the FLSA considers these compensable work hours, and the time should be counted as worked for pay purposes. These paid breaks are also counted when calculating the amount of overtime worked. If an unauthorized extension of a break occurs, employers are not required to compensate the employee for this time, and the employee may be subject to disciplinary action.