When taking on employment, it is important to understand the policy surrounding lunch breaks and rest periods at your job. You may be wondering what is required under Michigan law.

The reality is that if you are over the age of 18, there is no state-based requirement for breaks or meal periods. According to the State of Michigan, the only group of persons who are entitled to a state-mandated rest period are those who are under the age of 18. 

Am I entitled to any breaks?

Like many states, the state of Michigan defaults to federal law where this is concerned. This means that you are not entitled to any sort of lunch break or rest break during your employment hours. However, if you are given breaks, there are some stipulations as to how these breaks are handled.

A lunch break is considered to be a period of longer than 20 minutes that is given for the explicit purpose of eating a meal. During this time, the employee cannot be productively engaged. For instance, if an employer offers an unpaid meal break but the employee is answering emails during this time, then the employee needs to be paid for this period.

Again, any meal breaks are typically unpaid. But, due to the unpaid nature of these breaks, the employee must be doing nothing related to work during this period of time.

Are there any exceptions?

The one federally-mandated exception to this is nursing mothers. Under the healthcare reforms passed in 2010, nursing mothers must be given reasonable breaks in order to either feed a child or expel breast milk if the mother has a baby that is under one year of age.