* For employees working less than 6 consecutive
hours, the 15 minute break requirement may be waived by written
agreement between the employer and employee.
** An employee who is entitled to a thirty
minute break is not entitled to the 15 minute break as well
** The additional consecutive hours begin following the employee's
previous break. For example, if an employee works a 10 hour shift
and is given a 30 minute break at hour 5, the employee would be
entitled to a 15 minute break at hour 9.
9. When is an employee entitled to take their break?
While the Shift Break law does not specify when an employee will take their break, employers and employees
should work together cooperatively to determine when an employee will take a break required under the law.
When working cooperatively, the employer and employee should take into consideration both the employer's
business practices as well as the individual employee's needs.
10. My employer says that I can have
a "working shift break'? What is a working shift break and is
Any employer can provide a "working shift break" in
the following circumstances: the type of work prevents the employee
from being relieved of work; or the employee is permitted to consume
a meal while working, the employee is paid for this time, and
the employer and the employee mutually agree in writing
to the working shift break.
Maryland wage law requires that you be paid for all time worked.
If you were not paid for a working shift break, you may file a
claim for your unpaid wages with the Commissioner of Labor and
Industry. A copy of the claim form is available on our website.
11. Will I be paid for time that I am on break?
The Shift Break law requires that certain employers provide breaks to certain employees. This Maryland law
does not address whether an employee is paid during their break time. However, under the Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act, short breaks of less than 20 minutes (i.e. a coffee break or bathroom break) are considered work time that should be included in the sum of all hours worked in a week and are compensable. For more information on short breaks, see the
U.S. Department of Labor's website.
If you feel that you have not been compensated for your break and you should be, you may contact the U.S.
Department of Labor by calling 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243), or visiting the
12. Are there recordkeeping requirements for employers under the Shift Break law?
Yes. Employers are already required to maintain records of the times and hours worked. In addition to this
existing requirement, employers will need to keep records documenting employee breaks. This is necessary to
ensure compliance with the law.
13. What should I do if I think I have been denied a break that I am entitled to
under the Shift Break law?
An employee who feels that their rights have been violated under the Shift Break law may file a complaint
with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry (download a claim form). If you have any questions, you may email the Employment Standards Service at email@example.com
or call 410-767-9885.
14. What does the Commissioner do with the complaint?
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Commissioner will investigate the complaint and try to resolve the matter informally.
15. What happens if the Commissioner cannot resolve the complaint informally?
If the Commissioner determines that an employer has violated the Shift Break law, the Commissioner can
issue an order to compel compliance which can include a civil penalty. An employer has the right to appeal
the order to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
16. What if an employer has more than one violation in a three year period
against the same employee?
If an employer fails to comply with an order to compel compliance after the employer was already found to
have violated the Shift Break law against a certain employee within the last three years, the employee may
bring an action to enforce the order in circuit court. If the employee prevails in his/her action, the
employee may be entitled to three times the employee's hourly wage, reasonable attorney's fees and other
17. The following are hypothetical situations to provide further guidance on the
Shift Break law:
- I am an employer engaged in the retail business in Maryland. I have approximately 50 employees
working in the State, however, only 40 of them are retail employees who do sales work in the stores or
over the telephone. The remaining employees work in an office performing support services such as HR,
computer support, accounting, office, clerical and bookkeeping work. Is my business covered?
No. The law applies to retail businesses with 50 or more retail employees. If only you have only 40
employees engaged in actual sales in a store, the law would not apply to you.
- I am an accountant for a large retail company with numerous stores in Maryland. I occasionally
visit the stores, but spend the majority of my time working out of a corporate office. Am I entitled to a
No. You are assigned to work in a corporate office or other office location. Additionally, you may be a
professional employee and excluded from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and
therefore exempt from the Shift Break law on that basis as well.