For many Washington employees, there are lots of places he or she would rather be than at work. Isn’t it funny how an 8-hour work day can feel more like 12-hour work day? Work is hard for everyone and other than downing copious amounts of caffeine in between shifts (which many of you reading this likely do already), workplace breaks are an important time for employees to take a seat, grab some food or just zone out for a few minutes during their work day.
Did you know that the state of Washington is one of only 8 states in the country that have paid rest periods for employees? This is a good thing—it means that you not only have a legal right to breaks while you work but you also get paid for those breaks. Workers in states other than the lucky eight are still entitled to workplace breaks; they are just probably not getting paid for this time away from work.
The purpose of a Washington workplace break is simple—to give you a chance to go to the bathroom, sit down for a few minutes or have a snack. Whatever you need to do, taking this time during the work day will help you stay alert and do your job to the best of your ability. The amount of time you are allotted during a Washington workplace break depends on the amount of hours you are working that day. It makes sense—the more you work in a given day, the more breaks you get.
Here’s a look at some of the specifics:
-Paid ten minute rest period for each four hour work period
-Washington employees may not be required to work more than three hours without a rest break
-Breaks should be scheduled as near as possible to the midpoint (i.e. a 10 minute break 4 hours into an 8 hour workday)
Certain jobs are excluded from these otherwise affirmative requirements. If you are a Washington employer concerned about whether paid work breaks apply to your workforce, you should consider working with a Washington employment attorney to make sure you are in compliance with state and federal laws. Workplace breaks should not get in the way of business and there are ways to structure breaks for employees that keep operations running smoothly and employees happy. It is also important to note that paid breaks are different that your Washington overtime obligations.
As a Washington employee, your right to a paid work break is really for the benefit of both you and your employer. It gives you a chance to re-focus on work and it helps your employer maintain a workforce that is alert and ready to work. If you are being denied work breaks you know you are entitled to or not being paid for them, you should bring this issue up with your employer first. If that does not work, get in touch with a Washington employment attorney to help ensure that you are getting the breaks and compensation you deserve.