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11.15.23 – THV11- LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

There’s nothing like a break for lunch or a cup of coffee to revive you, but are you supposed to be paid for that time? Here’s a look at what Arkansas laws say.

Working for a living should be something we all enjoy as we contribute to our employer’s bottom line and to our own income. However, does Arkansas law require employers to provide breaks during the work day?

According to sources such as the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing, The NOLO network, which is a free library of consumer-friendly legal information, and the U.S. Labor Department, it is not a requirement in Arkansas.

Arkansas follows federal law where employers are not legally required to offer paid breaks in the workday, with one exception. Rest breaks are mandatory for children in Arkansas under the age of 16, who work in the entertainment industry. 

A company or other employer is allowed to choose whether to offer breaks— and if they do, Arkansas law has several rules in place. 

First, the employee must be paid for all breaks lasting 20 minutes or less. Breaks lasting longer than that are not required to be paid. 

However, if the employee must perform work-related tasks during a longer break, then the employer must include that time in the employee’s regular work hours.   

One notable consideration is for employees returning to work after the birth of a child and who are nursing. That employee is to be given reasonable, unpaid breaks, in a private lactation space each workday until the child reaches one year old. 

So the answer is no— there are no laws on the books in Arkansas requiring an employer to provide short breaks or mealtimes. While many still do in order to boost morale and improve productivity, legally, state and federal law does not require these breaks.