Can My Boss Legally Make Me Work Through My Lunch Hour?

working through lunch

The answer to this question varies from state to state. Each state has its own labor laws and its own set of considerations regarding pay and work hours. In Ohio, employers are not required to provide any kind of breaks for workers who are adults. A Cincinnati-based employment lawyer will work with that knowledge. (For workers younger than 18 and older than 16, lunch breaks are mandatory.)

As no breaks are required, the answer is yes. Your boss can make you work through your lunch hour – she or he can prevent you from having any kind of lunch hour at all.

What if I *do* have a lunch hour?

Do you take longer than twenty minutes for your lunch? If so, then you will not be paid for your lunchtime.

If your break is 20 minutes or shorter, then your employer needs to pay you for that break time.

A lunch hour, though? Or a lunch half-hour? Those are your time, and that time is unpaid.

Otherwise, a paid break is to be determined by each employer individually. This stipulation will likely be made clear at the time of your initial employment. Some jobs have regular breaks, and others do not. Lengths of shifts and total work hours vary from job to job and employer to employer.

Negotiating breaks, and possible payment for such breaks, are handled separately at every place of employment in Ohio. In many locations, a break may be informally included, and an employer may not require workers to clock out and clock in for brief breaks. Historically, “smoke breaks” are often included, whether or not the workers actually smoke cigarettes.