How many people out there actually take their breaks? Statistically, it’s hard to say. Throughout the nation, however, over 56% of employees nationwide have a lunch break that is 30 minutes or less, and more than half of Americans claim they cannot take a break. Millennials, in particular, say they fear to take their breaks over losing their jobs. 

To answer the question, no, taking a break is not required by the federal government if you are over 16 years old.  Each state has its own laws and there are laws per industry if breaks are required. It is important to check with your state and industry lawmakers on what laws are different or in addition to federal laws. Double-check child labor laws in your area if you plan to hire anyone under the age of 16. 

While we know it is not required to give breaks, what is best for the employee? In general, it is well-advised that if your employer allows you to take breaks, you should. Most Americans feel they don’t need to take a break, but nearly 90% of American workers who were surveyed(about 1,200 people), according to a recent study by Tork, felt that lunch helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. This study also revealed that those who take their breaks are more likely to say and believe themselves to work efficiently and productively. Taking breaks also increases job satisfaction.  It is duly noted that those who don’t take their lunch breaks were more likely to say they would work weekends and late nights. This further acknowledges that those who don’t take breaks surrender to the mindset that work needs to take up all free time. 

This is incredibly alarming, as it’s no secret that this could lead to low company morale. What the real issue is that plenty of Americans feel as though they are expendable when they shouldn’t. So, by taking breaks, a worker will have a better mindset about work and further improve their mental health and well being. Again, while it is not required, for most people, the outcome of taking breaks will be a much more positive one.