Washington Required Workday Break & Meal Periods 2023
Workday Meal Periods:
By Administrative regulation
Workday Rest Periods:
By Administrative regulation
Washington has extensive regulations providing for mandatory break periods during the workday, including both mandatory meal / lunch periods and one or more shorter rest periods. This page provides details about Washington's meal and rest period requirements.
Mandatory Workday Lunch / Meal Breaks in Washington
Washington requires a meal period of ½ hour, if the work period is more than 5 consecutive hours, to be given not less than 2 hours nor more than 5 hours from the beginning of the shift.
The meal period is counted as worktime if the employee is required to remain on duty on premises or at a prescribed worksite. An additional ½ hour, before or during overtime, is required for employees working 3 or more hours beyond the regular workday.
Which employees are covered by Washington's meal period regulations?
Washington's regulations exclude newspaper vendors or carriers, sheltered workshops, domestic or casual labor in a private residence, and agricultural labor.
In Washington State, although agricultural labor is excluded from the general meal period requirement, a separate regulation requires a 30-minute meal period after 5 hours in agriculture and an additional 30 minutes for employees working 11 or more hours in a day.
Meal period rules for construction trade employees may be superseded by a collective bargaining agreement covering such employees if the terms of the agreemens specifically require meal periods and prescribe requirements concerning them.
Additional Meal Period Information
The Washington Director of Labor and Industries may grant a variance to these requirements for good cause, upon employer application.
Note: Washington Has Special Regulations for Minor Employees
In addition to a general regulation requiring meal periods for employees, Washington has special regulations that require meal periods for minors under age 18. These regulations, which require more frequent and / or longer meal / break periods, take precedence over the general regulations for minor employees. Learn more about Washington's child labor regulations here.
Mandatory Workday Rest Periods in Washington
Washington requires that employees be provided with one paid 10-minute rest period for each 4-hour work period, to scheduled as near as possible to midpoint of each work period. No employee may not be required to work more than 3 hours without a rest period.
Which employees are covered by Washington's rest period regulations?
Washington's rest period laws exclude newspaper vendors or carriers, domestic or casual labor around private residences, sheltered workshops, and agricultural labor.
Rest period rules for construction trade employees may be overruled by a collective bargaining agreement covering such employees if the terms of the agreement specifically require rest periods and prescribe requirements concerning them.
Additional Rest Period Information
Scheduled rest periods not required when the nature of the employees' work allows them to take intermittent rest periods equivalent to the required standard.
The Washington Director of Labor and Industries may grant a variance from state rest period laws for good cause, upon employer application.