Washington: Supreme Court Clarifies Meal Break Requirements


All Employers with WA Employees


August 10, 2017


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Requirements for the timing and length of an employee’s meal break may vary from state to state.  In Washington, an employee who works five or more consecutive hours must be provided a minimum 30-minute meal period, unless the employee chooses to waive the meal break period. The Washington Supreme Court recently clarified the standard to determine an employer’s liability for a missed meal break.

Specifically, the state supreme court stated that a when an employee provides evidence that he or she did not receive a timely meal break, a greater burden exists on employers to prove that no violation of the Washington Administrative Code § 296-126-092 truly occurred.  An employer merely providing an employee the opportunity to take a meal break may not be sufficient to resolve employer liability. Rather, the employer must demonstrate either that no violation occurred and that the employee was actually provided a meal break, or that a valid meal waiver exists.

Action Items

  1. Revise procedures to ensure start and end times of employee meal periods are documented.  If an employee elects to waive a meal period, obtain a signed waiver from the employee.
  2. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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