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Mississippi Meal Break Law

Posted by Tamara

Some Mississippi managers or supervisors tell their employees, “You have to take a meal break. It’s the law.”

That is an incorrect statement. There is no such state law in Mississippi. There is no federal meal break law either. Mississippi and 30 other states, including Texas, Alabama and Arkansas, have no meal break laws at all.

As a result, employers in these 31 states have the right to set meal breaks as they wish. As long as they follow other state and federal labor laws, a company can require employees to take a meal break at any time during the day.

There are some employees in Mississippi who think that since there’s no state or federal law requiring a meal break, that they don’t have to take one. Many of these employees also assume that if they skip the meal break, they are allowed to leave work early.

These employees are incorrect. Meal breaks and shift lengths are two separate issues. Employers establish work shifts according to their needs, not at the convenience of the employee. The start and end times of these shifts are a matter of company policy, and workers are expected to follow them. An employee who leaves early could be disciplined or even terminated for failing to working their required shift.

As for meal breaks, because Mississippi is not governed by a state meal break law, employers can require employees to take a meal break of 30 minutes or more. The break can be paid or unpaid, and is up to the discretion of the individual company. Employees who are required to stay on the premises are often paid for their meal break, but employers are not legally required to do so.

The important point of meal breaks to remember is that they are part of the established company policies. Employees who decline to take a meal break could be considered as violating company policy and could face discipline or even lose their jobs.


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