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Automatic deductions for meal breaks and the law – what you need to know.

Ohio Break Laws

Breaks and lunches are an essential and often expected part of a workday but the reality of Ohio’s break laws might surprise you. Employers in the state of Ohio are not required to give anybody 18 or older breaks throughout their work shift. That being said you will be hard-pressed to find an employer who doesn’t allow for such breaks.


Routinely scheduled breaks have been shown to improve the overall effectiveness and productivity of employees. This is why most, if not all employers in Ohio allow for regular breaks and lunches. When employers choose to offer their employees breaks they have a list of rules put in place by the FLSA that they now have to abide by.


  • Employers must pay employees for any break less than 20 minutes in length.
  • Employers are not required to pay for meal breaks that are longer than 20 minutes.
  • If any work-related task is performed during a meal break the employer then has to pay the employee for the entire break.


This last point is the most commonly broken rule in the workplace and is often violated in scenarios where the employer has an automatic meal deduction system in place. If you feel like your employer is violating any of these rules, contact an unpaid wage attorney at Barkan Meizlish LLP today. We will fight for you and help you recover the wages that are rightfully yours. More information on unpaid wage violations can be found here.

Automatic Meal Deductions

Employers can run into trouble by implementing “automatic lunch deduction policies” as a shortcut around the FLSA’s requirements.  Rather than have employees clock in and clock out for meal breaks, many employers will automatically deduct break time from employees’ hours each day. 


The problem with this practice is that wages often go unpaid because it does not take into account work performed during a lunch break—whether that is an employee working straight through their lunch, answering a quick phone call or email from a supervisor during a break, or other interruptions during the break because of any other work-related duties.


If your employer makes you perform work tasks during an unpaid break then you might be eligible to recover lost wages. The unpaid wage attorneys at Barkan Meizlish LLP are here to help you recover what’s rightfully yours under the FSLA.


If you are an employer we strongly encourage you to refrain from automatic meal deductions. While it may be more time-consuming, manually tracking employees’ break times is the way to go. Doing this ensures your employees are being paid what they are rightfully owed and prevents you from having to deal with any unpaid wage lawsuits in the future.

Ohio Break Laws for Minors

As you might expect, the laws surrounding minors’ break times are different than those of people over the age of 18. Any worker under the age of 18 must take a 30-minute uninterrupted break for every 5 hours worked. This break does not have to be paid but the minor in question cannot perform any work related duties in the 30 minute time period. Labor laws surrounding minors are more strictly enforced and should be followed at all costs.

Unpaid Wage Attorneys

The fair labor standards act was put in place in 1938 to ensure that workers are treated fairly and compensated for every hour of their time. This act introduced many of the labor laws that are still in place today. Including a federal minimum wage, 40 hour work week, and those laws mentioned above regarding breaks. 


Barkan Meizlish LLP has been representing clients’ unpaid wage claims since 1957. If your employer has violated any of the laws mentioned above you need to contact one of our unpaid wage attorneys. We understand how valuable your time is and will fight for every hour of unpaid wages you are owed.

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