Does My Colorado Employer Have to Give Me Breaks From Work?

Your entitlement to meal and rest breaks depends on state law.
What Are My Rights to Tips in Colorado?
Am I Entitled to Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave, or Vacation Time in Colorado?

Last Reviewed: Tue, Jun 23, 2020

Colorado is one of a handful of states that require employers to provide paid rest breaks to employees. 

Although many employees get meal and rest breaks during the workday, these breaks aren’t legally required everywhere. Federal law doesn’t require employers to give employees time off to eat or rest during their shifts. Employees are entitled to these breaks only if their state requires it.  

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t require employers to give breaks, but it does regulate when employers have to pay for breaks they choose to give. 

Should Your Breaks Be Paid?

The FLSA requires employers to pay employees for all hours worked, including time the employer may classify as a “break.” An employer does not have to pay for longer meal breaks during which the employee is relieved of all work duties.

However, an employer must pay for:

  • Breaks during which the employee must work. If, for instance, you are allowed to eat at your desk while working, or you have to wolf down your sandwich during a work meeting, that is not a break. That is work time, for which you must be paid. 
  • Breaks lasting 20 minutes or less. These shorter periods off are considered part of the regular work day, and employees are entitled to be paid for them under the FLSA. 

Colorado Law on Meal Breaks

Most Colorado employees have the right to a 30-minute meal break, unpaid, once they have worked five hours. If the nature of the employee's job precludes the employee from taking a complete break from all duties, the employer may instead provide an on-duty meal break. However, this break must be paid. 

Colorado Law on Rest Breaks 

In Colorado, you are entitled to take a ten-minute rest break, with pay, for every four hours (or major fraction of four hours) you work. Your employer must allow you to take your break in the middle of that work period, if practicable. 



What Are My Rights to Tips in Colorado?
Am I Entitled to Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave, or Vacation Time in Colorado?

Jurisdictional relevance:

There are versions of this article for each State.

Selected State: Colorado
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