Meal and Rest Break Requirements for Agriculture

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Background: The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has adopted separate regulations applicable to agricultural and non-agricultural labor. Regulations related to agricultural labor are in WAC 296-131, while regulations for non-agricultural labor are in WAC 296-126. See below for more details about these regulations.

Meal Periods: Employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal period when working at least five consecutive hours. The 30-minute meal period should begin no less than two hours, and not more than five hours, from the beginning of the shift. Employees working three or more hours longer than a normal work day (eight hours) must be allowed another 30-minute meal period during the overtime period. Meal periods are on the employee’s time and do not need to be paid by the employer.

Unlike non-agricultural employees, an agricultural employee likely cannot waive the right to a meal period. This stipulation is due to the differing language in the non-agricultural regulation. The best practice is to require all employees to take and record meal periods.

Rest Periods: Employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest period, on the employer’s time, for each four hours of work time. “On the employer’s time” means that the employee must be paid for the 10-minute rest period. Rest period requirements apply to overtime periods as well. Continue reading Meal and Rest Break Requirements for Agriculture

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