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Breaks - Massachusetts

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  • Breaks - Massachusetts

    I work in retail, and our higher ups don't give us many scheduling hours. All of our double coverage is reserved for the weekends, so through out the week only one person is on at a time. In order to go on break we'd have to close the store, which I understand probably isn't good for business. I was told that we cannot leave the store or clock out for break while working alone, but can eat in the back room with the door propped open. We cannot go to get food. However, if a customer comes in we have to be back on the sales floor. I read that the law is that you get a half hour break relieved of all duties, so is this legal?

  • #2
    Massachusetts law requires that employees who work a shift of 6 or more hours is entitled to a 30 minute unpaid meal break. That is the only break required by MA law - Federal law does not require any breaks at all. (Federal law says that IF breaks are offered, breaks of under 20 minutes must be a paid break.)

    There is, however, something tickling at the back of my mind that employers who have only one employee on duty at at time can apply to the state to waive the break requirement - Phil?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      I'm not Phil but I did find this, cbg.

      Mass Gen L.c. 149 statutes 100 & 101

      No person shall be required to work for more than six hours during a calendar day without an interval of at least thirty minutes for a meal. Any employer, superintendent, overseer or agent who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred nor more than six hundred dollars.

      The preceding section shall not apply to iron works, glass works, paper mills, letterpress establishments, print works, bleaching works, or dyeing works; and the attorney general, if it is proved to his satisfaction that in any other factories or workshops or mechanical establishments it is necessary, **by reason of the continuous nature of the processes or of special circumstances affecting such establishments**, including collective bargaining agreements to exempt them from the preceding section and that such exemption can be made without injury to the persons affected thereby, may grant such exemption as, in his discretion, seems necessary.
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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