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Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  16 years practicing attorney
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As a salaried employee, am I entitled to a lunch break? I Work

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As a salaried employee, am I entitled to a lunch break? I Work between 12 and 15 hours a day. I will stop to eat something and maybe make a phone call but am always working. If our phone rings or a customer comes in I am right up helping.

Also we have hourly employees that sign up for work, some will sign up for 2 hours some will sign up for 10 hour shifts. I feel they are entitled to breaks and lunches?

What is the penalty for this Violation.

Under Washington law accoding to the WA State Dept of Labor and Industries:
An employee is entitled to a meal break:

If more than 5 hours are worked in a shift:

  • Workers must be allowed at least a 30 minute meal period.
  • Workers must be at least two hours into the shift before the meal time can start.
  • The meal time cannot start more than five hours after the beginning of the shift.
However, an employer is not required to pay the employee for a lunch break by law unless:
  • They are required or allowed to remain on duty.
  • They are required to be on-call at the business premises or designated worksite to be available to return to duty even if they are not in fact called back to duty.
  • They are called back to duty during their meal period even though they normally are not on call during the meal period.
If an employer is violating this law, the employee can file a formal complaint with the Dept of Labor here:
The employer can be subjected to monetary fines for violating the employee's rights.






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