Washington Meal Break Law

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.
  • A business is not required to pay for meal periods if workers are free from any duties for their entire meal period.
  • Workers must be paid during their meal break when:
  • 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.
  • Workers may give up their meal period if they prefer to work through it and if the employer agrees.

    Business owners please note: The Department of Labor & Industries recommends that you get a written statement from workers who want give up their meal periods.


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